February 13, 2018

Holiday Arrangements Post Separation

Written by Sophie Pincott

In many cases, divorce has a devastating impact on a family, especially where children are involved. One of the major challenges for separated parents can be agreeing on the arrangements for the children during the holidays and on other important occasions.  This, we have seen, is a common area for conflict.
Effective communication and planning ahead is crucial, particularly when considering arrangements for the children.
Holidays and other important dates in the year such as Christmas, Easter, school holidays and birthdays can be a difficult time for children dividing their time between two homes.  If parents are not able to agree on arrangements, it can result in tense and emotional discussions, sadly sometimes in front of the children, following which one parent is inevitably disappointed.
It is important to bear in mind that generally, the holidays are there to benefit the children, rather than the parents.  Unfortunately, often one or both parents lose focus and turn discussions into a purely mathematical exercise during which they try to ensure they take exactly their 50% entitlement for each of the holidays.
This might not work on a practical level due to work commitments and can lead to the children toing and froing between their parents or missing out on specific events which one family has planned. Further, it may not work on an emotional level where dependant on the children’s ages, consideration should be given to their wishes and feelings.
In some circumstances, the courts do recognise the benefit in children spending alternate Christmases, Easters and sometimes birthdays, with each parent.  There are occasions when the parent with care, which is often but not always the mother, is reluctant to accept this as a principle.  This is because they will have spent every Christmas/birthday with their children while the family were still together, and they will perceive any change to this routine as detrimental or unfair.
It is essential that the children remain in the forefront of everyone’s minds when discussions take place about the division of childcare generally and during the school holidays.
What are our top tips?

  1. Plan ahead – In our experience, part of the problem is that many people do not think about this soon enough and parents allow the issue of where the children will be and who they will spend holidays with remain unresolved until the last moment. This may be because they do not wish to discuss matters, or they hope that nearer to the time they will be able to reach an agreement or because neither of them wishes to rock the boat by discussing things too early.

There are often other competing factors to be taken into account and co-ordinated such as grandparents, step-families, parties, holidays, and time off work to be arranged. The whole issue can easily become a logistical minefield with the children themselves at the centre.

  1. Communicate – Always tell the other party in advance what your proposals are. You want to avoid a situation where you both book holidays at the same time. Ideally, you should be discussing holidays at least two months in advance.

If you and your ex-partner are not able to agree matters yourselves, we have many experienced lawyers at Peter Lynn and Partners who specialise in this area of law.  We also refer many clients to mediators to facilitate discussions between parents.
In our experience, the more amicable discussions can remain, the more likely parents will remain focussed on what is best for the children, rather than on winning the battle they believe they have with their ex-partner surrounding holiday contact.
For more information or to arrange a free initial meeting to discuss this or similar matters, call 01792 450010 or email [email protected]