The school holidays are coming – and they play an important role in a child’s educational and cultural development. They are also just fun!
However, holidays can also be a cause of conflict in separated families where one party wants to take a child abroad or to another part of the UK against the wishes of the other parent.
Sometimes there may be a good reason to prevent a child being removed from the UK – for example where there is a risk of non-return.
The court, however, will generally promote family holidays for children where they can learn about new cultures and enjoy quality time with their parent and siblings.
Under the Child Abduction Act is a criminal offence to remove a child under 16 from the UK without the appropriate parental consent – that consent coming from each parent who has Parental Responsibility for the child.
Parents should make sure that any holiday plans are communicated to the other parent well in advance and before any costs are incurred to reach an agreement preferably in writing so the holiday can take place.
Holidays can be an emotive subject upon separation and parents can disagree about arrangements.
A well thought out schedule of the year’s holiday period well in advance will help avoid difficulties and the need for an urgent Application to Court.
If agreement cannot be reached, the parent who wants to take the child on holiday can ask the court to make a Specific Issue Order – dealing with the specific issue of the holiday.
Here the court will consider the Children Act 1989 and a ‘welfare checklist’. The child’s welfare is paramount.
A well thought out application setting out the benefits to the holiday, the detailed travel arrangements and security considerations and contact arrangements for the parent not travelling are all important.
Such applications are quite often made late in the day when an agreement cannot be reached.
A Child Arrangements and Parenting Plan to record in writing the obligations of the parents can help reduce conflict.
The Plan, prepared and signed with input from both parents, can cover many issues – including holidays.
If you need help or advice on a Child Arrangements and Parenting Plan, holiday arrangements or child arrangements upon separation, Wollens can help you.