Holidays can be a source of tension for separated parents, especially if they have not been able to make arrangements for their children by mutual agreement. Making arrangements for the Christmas holidays can be particularly difficult and this is a sensitive issue that we often advise our clients on.
Here are five ways to help address this potentially difficult issue.
The Christmas holidays are quickly approaching, so the earlier discussions and negotiations with your ex-partner start, the sooner agreement can be reached.
When formulating a plan in relation to holiday contact, don’t just address the immediate holidays approaching; think about arrangements for Easter and summer, as well as other special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. It may also be worthwhile to make plans for the next few years so both you and your ex-partner have the chance to share key calendar dates with your children.
The use of a calendar system may also be beneficial, as the visual representation of where the child will spend their holiday time can provide clarity for all involved, while being a helpful tool to prepare the child for any upcoming contact.
Being flexible with your ex-partner when making arrangements may encourage them to reciprocate with a flexible approach. When formulating plans consider yours and your ex-partner’s work commitments and try to cooperate with each other to reach agreement.
While it may be difficult to maintain a friendly relationship with your ex-partner, the family courts actively encourage discussion and communication between separated parents for the benefit of the children.
It’s important not to make firm plans for key holiday dates until you’ve discussed them with the other parent, but once plans are in place, ensure that you give as much information to your ex-partner about the arrangements as you would wish to receive.
Discuss the practicalities and logistics of the arrangements, such as handover time. Communication is especially important if holiday contact involves foreign travel, so provide an itinerary and try to contact the other parent occasionally during the holiday.
Focusing on the children
As a parent you will naturally want to reach an agreement that is in your child’s best interest. Keeping their welfare at the centre of any negotiation should make reaching an agreement much easier.
If, for example, parents have conflicting plans for the Christmas holidays, it is important to think about what is in the child’s best interests and also incorporate their wishes into any decision made.
Mediation and court
Parents are encouraged to reach mutual agreement regarding child arrangements, but if agreement cannot be reached together, then mediation may provide a forum for open and frank discussion.
Although it is preferable for agreement to be reached without making an application to the court, in some instances this may not be possible. If you are experiencing difficulties in reaching an agreement with your ex-partner about arrangements for your children, then it is important that you seek the advice of a specialist family solicitor.
For more information on agreeing holiday arrangements for your children or to discuss any aspect of family law please contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321