Child Arrangements After Divorce – Managing the Summer Holidays
With the summer term drawing to a close and school holidays looming, the children will be looking forward to their eight weeks of freedom. However, this can often be a difficult time for separated parents.
The schools in Jersey this year break up on Friday 20 July 2018. It is important that you discuss and try to agree the arrangements for the children ahead of this date, whether you intend to take the children off-island or not.
If you have no trips planned away from Jersey, it is still important to discuss with your ex-partner what the plans will be for the eight weeks of the summer holidays. Most parents are unable to take the full eight weeks off work to take care of the children and therefore either a childminder or a holiday club is usually the preferred option for making sure the children are looked after.
If a childminder or holiday club is sought, both you and your ex-partner should attempt to have the discussion early on as to how the costs of this will be covered. For example, you may wish to propose that you both pay for this on an equal basis (50:50).
In addition, with the children not being at school, the arrangements which are in place may become more flexible over the school holidays. You may wish to propose more overnight stays, or an extended period of time with the children, whilst there are no school or extra-curricular commitments that the children are required to attend.
This can often be a bone of contention between parents. Usually, lawyers receive enquiries from the non-resident parent (the parent who the child does not live with, but has contact with), as they feel that the resident parent is largely dictating when, and for how long, the non-resident parent may take the children away for.
If both parents have parental responsibility (PR), they are both entitled to take the children abroad, subject to obtaining written consent from the other parent. If there is a residence order in place, the parent in receipt of this is able to take the children away for a period up to one month, without consent. We would, however, advise that the non-resident parent should be put on notice in advance as a matter of courtesy. We would also suggest that you provide the non-resident parent with all the travel details of the trip, including outgoing and return flight information and where you and the children will be staying. It is advisable during this period to accommodate the non-resident parent in arranging indirect contact, such as Skype or Face-Time.
If the resident parent is not agreeable to the children going abroad, you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Your lawyer will attempt to make negotiations with the resident parent in respect of the holiday. If this is still not agreed, you may be advised to issue a formal application to the Court, known as a ‘Specific Issue Order’. The application will usually contain flight details, information on where you are staying and your proposals for indirect contact with the parent staying at home (irrespective of whether they are the resident or non-resident parent).
Lawyers appreciate that you wish to spend quality time with your children during the school holidays. However, it is important to bear in mind that the children come first, and their interests should be at the forefront of any decision.
From the resident parent perspective, it is important to allow and maintain a sufficient relationship between the children and the non-resident parent. If you receive proposals from your ex-partner, review them carefully before saying ‘no’, without good reason (e.g. safety concerns). Whilst you may wish to spend time with your children, it is important to put yourselves in the children’s shoes and consider if they would like to see your ex-partner more during their school holidays.
On the other hand, from the non-resident parent perspective, when making proposals for the school holidays, particularly if you want to go abroad with the children, make sure what you are proposing is realistic. For example, proposing a three week holiday for small children, when you may not ordinarily have them for more than 1 or 2 nights a week, maybe too long a time for the children to be away from the resident parent.
To conclude, the summer holidays are what the children look forward too, which is why as parents you should work together to let them enjoy this period in the sunshine, free of any tension between you.
If you are about to start the divorce process, our divorce lawyers in Jersey can help. Get in contact today for a free initial consultation.
Author: Stephanie Devine
Parslows Jersey can help
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