Summer holiday contact - how to make it work

Monday, 9 July 2018

The summer holiday season is now upon us but it’s not all ice cream and picnics for everyone.  Many parents who are no longer together are able to reach an amicable agreement about how their children will spend their holidays.  For others, discussions about when, where and how summer holiday contact should take place – or indeed Easter, October or Christmas holidays – can become fraught.  Sometimes discussions break down completely. If this has happened to you, or if you need some advice about your specific circumstances, we can help. 

How much contact can I have with my children over the summer holidays?

There are no hard and fast rules about how much holiday contact a non-resident parent should have with their children.  Generally speaking, parents are free to agree whatever they like, but in the case of a dispute a court will often award the non-resident parent  - that is the parent with whom the child doesn’t ordinarily live - one or two weeks of residential contact during the summer holidays, provided that contact is otherwise well established and going well.   

Can I take my child abroad?

If you want to take your child abroad on holiday, you must first obtain the consent of anyone else who has parental rights and responsibilities.  Usually this is the child’s other parent.  The consent does not have to be in writing but you may wish to obtain written consent just to be on the safe side, particularly if relations between you and the other parent are strained.  If the other parent holds the child’s passport arrangements will also have to be made for the passport to be handed over by a certain time.

If the other parent will not consent to the holiday, you can ask the court to grant what is known as a Specific Issue Order, allowing you to take the child abroad and requiring the other parent to produce the child’s passport.  The court is usually hesitant to prevent a child from going abroad on a nice holiday provided of course that there are no concerns regarding the child’s welfare.  These proceedings can, however, take some time to raise, so forward planning is essential.    

It is worth noting that consent is not required to take your child on holiday anywhere else in the UK.

If you would like our advice or assistance in relation to these matters please do not hesitate to contact our Jenny Simpson or Ashleigh Morton on 01383 721141.

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