Divorce, child arrangements and what to do about the school holidays?
Although some parents aim to share the holidays equally, both parents may wish to consider splitting the school holidays between them. For instance, rather than dividing each half term equally, parents may wish to make child arrangements in order that the children spend one of the half term holidays with one parent and the other half term holiday with the other parent. This arrangement can also apply to Christmas and Easter with Christmas Day and Easter Sunday being alternated between parents each year.
When considering child arrangements during the school holidays, both parents should also take into account the child’s wishes. If you have negotiated contact arrangements, it may also be a good idea to add the arrangements to a calendar for your children in order that they know where will be at a particular time.
If you are separated or divorced from your ex-partner, certain difficulties can arise when travelling abroad with a child, especially when only one parent is travelling.
Any parent who wishes to take their child away on holiday must have Parental Responsibility (“PR”). PR can be defined as having the right to be included in fundamental decisions of your child’s life. A child’s mother automatically has PR and a father who is, or was, married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth automatically has PR. Prior to 2nd December 2016, an unmarried father did not automatically have PR and would have to enter into an agreement with the mother or apply to the Court for an order to obtain it. The law has now changed and it means that unmarried fathers who are registered on their child’s birth certificate automatically have PR for their child born after 2 December 2016.
If a parent who does not have PR intends to take their child off Island, and the other parent agrees to the travel plans, the parent wishing to travel should consider having a PR agreement in place prior to travelling to enable that parent to make important decisions regarding the child; for example, if they require medical attention whilst you are away.
If a residence order has been granted by the Court in favour of one parent, the person in whose favour the residence order has been granted is entitled to take the child out of the Island for a period of one month without having to obtain the consent of the non-resident parent.
Staying on island
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.
Potential issues when one parent is travelling with children
If you are travelling to another country this summer with your child, without the other parent, you may need to take additional documents with you to enable you to establish your relationship with your child and to confirm that you are permitted to travel alone with your child.
If both parents agree that one parent can take the child away for a holiday, it would be prudent to travel with a notarised written consent from the non-travelling parent, together with a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate, to prevent being denied access onto planes or to your holiday destination. This is also important should your child require medical attention abroad and you have a different surname to that of your child.
If both parents have PR but one of them does not agree to the other parent taking the child on holiday, the parent wanting to the take the child away will need to seek permission from the Court.
While many airlines remind travellers to certain destinations of the specific requirements, not all do. It is always a good idea to check with the immigration authority or British Embassy of your destination to ensure that you carry the appropriate documents.