LEGAL CORNER: Plan ahead and stay in touch: a brief school holiday checklist for separated parents
School holidays can be challenging for any parent faced with the pressures of juggling work commitments, childcare and financial pressures while trying to prevent boredom setting in by keeping their children occupied.
For separated parents, the challenge includes deciding who has the children, when – coping with new routines and the reality of holidaying separately can leave many parents dreading the school holidays.
Although school holidays can be stressful, it is worth remembering that holidays are almost always a good thing for children; the following points may help families who find themselves dealing with new holiday circumstances this summer.
A child’s first holiday without one of their parents can be difficult for everyone, especially for the parent left behind. The idea of your children having fun without you, particularly if your ex- is taking a new partner or if you cannot afford to take your children away on a similar trip, can produce strong feelings from jealousy and anger to loneliness and depression. But try not to allow these feelings to take over or prompt you to withhold permission for your children to go on the trip, unless you have genuine concerns for their safety. By refusing, you risk preventing your children from talking openly with you about their solo experiences and potentially making them feel guilty about enjoying themselves.
Co-operation and communication are both vital when it comes to matters involving children, so keep your ex informed if your own holiday arrangements or work commitments change, and always plan as far ahead as possible. Early discussion can reduce the risk of misunderstanding and dispute and give the children valuable time to adjust to the idea of spending extended time without one of their parents.
Attention to detail is also important: whoever is taking the children on holiday should provide the other parent with as much information as possible. As a minimum, this should include where the children are going, where they will be staying, how they will be travelling and how they can be contacted in an emergency.
If holiday arrangements cannot be agreed, legally-supervised mediation can offer an ideal forum in which to discuss potentially contentious issues such as separate holidays. Less formal than applying to the law courts, mediation provides a structured, non-confrontational environment in which agreement can often be reached amicably.
For more information on our mediation services, please contact the George Ide family team on 01243 786668.
Tina Day, head of family
George Ide, LLP
Solicitors of Chichester and Bognor Regis