School’s out for summer
Holidays are here again…The start of the summer holidays marks great excitement for many children across Scotland this week. However, some of their parents may not feel the same way. Holiday time can be very stressful for parents and carers who can be juggling work and/or other commitments with providing care for their children. It can be particularly difficult for parents who are separated. When organising holidays these parents may be trying to accommodate not only their own schedules, those of their children and their former partners, but potentially also those of any new partners, their children and the new partners’ former partners! It can, therefore, all become very overwhelming.
The key advice for separated parents is to plan well in advance wherever possible. The more time there is to plan, the more likely it is that everyone’s schedules can be accommodated. Therefore, checking early with colleagues as to when each parent (and any new partners who will be going on the holiday) can take holidays from work over the busy school holiday periods is vital. Parents also need to be prepared to be flexible, where possible, to maximise the chance that the child/ren involved will be able to experience the best holidays possible in all the circumstances.
Once all the adults involved know when they have potential for taking holidays, hopefully agreement can then be reached on what weeks each parent will take with the child/ren. Given the recent delays experienced by many people when trying to renew their passports, all passports should also be checked well in advance so that renewal applications can be made if needed.
Does my holiday take precedence over the other parent’s contact?
Be aware of the other parent’s scheduled time with the children when making your holiday plans. For example, if they are normally due to see the children every weekend, does your holiday impinge on that? If so, it would be appropriate to have their consent to a variation of the arrangement (and necessary, if their contact is regulated by court order). This may be easily negotiated where, for example, they also seek “extra” time to go on holiday with the children, but if negotiations prove difficult, you may benefit from advice or input to find a solution.
Remember, if you take the children away for your holiday at a time when the court has ordered the other parent should have the children in their care, you may be found in contempt of the court order.
Do I need consent to go abroad with my child?
If you are taking your child out of the United Kingdom you require the consent of anyone else who has parental rights and responsibilities for that child. See our recent article on this topic: Do I need a letter of consent to take my child abroad? This will usually be the other parent. Accordingly, when planning a holiday abroad you should check with the other parent that they consent to the holiday.
To allow the other parent to make an informed decision on consent you will require to provide the parent with the location of the holiday and a contact address for where the child/ren will be staying during the holiday. It would also be courteous to provide flight numbers and times and expected arrival time at the destination.
You should also check with the airline with whom you are travelling whether they require any written confirmation from the other parent to confirm their consent. This can save unnecessary upset and stress at the airport check in desk.
My former partner is refusing to come to an agreement about holiday contact OR s/he is refusing to consent to my holiday abroad – What do I do?
If you are able to, you can discuss the matter with your former partner to try to ascertain why they are refusing to agree dates/consent to the holiday abroad.
If you know this would be challenging, then, if you both agree, you can use a mediation service so that you can have that discussion with the assistance of a mediator.
Alternatively, you can instruct a solicitor to correspond with your former partner or with their solicitor. If your former partner is refusing to agree dates, or is withholding consent unreasonably then the final port of call is to raise court proceedings to seek an order from the court to allow the holiday to take place on the basis that it is in your child’s best interests.
If it is a holiday abroad, and your former partner holds the passport/s of the child/ren, you can also seek an order for your former partner to provide the passport/s by a set date in advance of the holiday. It is in acrimonious situations such as these, when it is particularly important to plan in advance so that, if court action is needed, this can be done well in advance of the holiday taking place.
If you would like to discuss any difficulties you are experiencing in relation to making holiday arrangements with your former partner, please speak to one of our experienced members of the Family Law team.
Morven Douglas, Senior Associate: firstname.lastname@example.org / 0141 221 8012
Kirstine MacRae, Partner: email@example.com / 01436 671221