LEGAL CORNER: Parenting after parting - how to avoid ‘holiday hell’

The long school summer break, like Christmas, comes every year yet some separated or divorced parents remain unaware of the potential issues holiday time can bring.

Organising a holiday which takes a child/children out of the country raises the possibility that the other parent could object and block perfectly reasonable plans.

How can this be avoided?

Planning is the key. If you wish to take your child/children on holiday abroad, assuming there is no ‘residence order’, both parents should have a say even though you may no longer live together.

Such plans may disrupt contact arrangements and so the other parent may rightly feel there needs to be an adjustment.

Equally, the parent with care may have concerns about their child going abroad and spending longer than usual with the parent who doesn’t usually care for them.

Both parents may have legitimate concerns, the key is to anticipate and plan in good time. Successful parenting after parting rests largely on the quality of communication between parties.

Making plans in good time, communicating this to the other parent and discussing any concerns long before the holiday is due or tickets are bought is vital.

Neither parent has the right to veto the reasonable plans of the other and courts tend to take a dim view of a parent who chooses to exercise their parental responsibility in this way.

Essentially, reasonable plans communicated in advance by one parent to the other which involve children going to popular holiday destinations for a short period of time and returning to their home are likely to be supported by a court.

Indeed, a parent who objects to such plans can expect short shrift from any court asked to make a decision in relation to this.

Even in children proceedings there is the possibility that a court could make a Costs Order against a party in appropriate circumstances. Courts view litigation as a matter of last resort rather than a forum for asserting rights per se.

If, however, circumstances justify it, an objection may well be appropriate but this needs to be rooted in the welfare of the child rather than a parent’s perceived right to veto a reasonable plan.

Each case is dealt with on the facts and, therefore, careful consideration always needs to be given to the particular circumstances.

Planning with the assistance of legal advice will navigate potentially choppy waters. If you would like to know more about this area please contact Jim Richards to discuss matters further.

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Jim Richards,

Solicitor, family department

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George Ide, LLP

Solicitors of Chichester and Bognor Regis

Telephone 01243 786668

Email: observer@georgeide.co.uk