Arranging school holidays when you are divorced or separated isn’t easy. 

As parents you want to make sure they have the best possible time.  This may not be easy if you are still not communicating as well as you’d like to or if work is making it challenging for one or both parents to share custody during the holiday period. 

As summer approaches, we’d like to share some of the tips our experienced family lawyers have picked up whilst helping their clients plan for the school holidays following divorce or separation.

How do you give your children a positive holiday experience?

Both parent’s primary objective is to make sure their children enjoy their holidays.  Here are some suggestions that will help you achieve this objective.

  • Stick to their routines

Children like routines.  Try and keep things the same as much as you can in terms of meal times, bed times, clubs, and activities (although you might be able to push bed times a little as a holiday treat).

  • Focusing on the present

Try and move away from talking about the past and focus on making sure you all have fun where you are.

  • Establishing new traditions

If you find your children really enjoy an activity at a certain point in the holidays – perhaps a weekend camping over the August Bank Holiday – why not make that an annual fixture during the summer holidays? 

  • Involve the whole family

You should, as much as is possible, work together to make sure your children can see their grandparents and extended family on both sides. 

Other considerations that should make it easier to arrange school holidays when you are divorced or separated

There are three additional suggestions that may make it slightly easier to arrange school holidays when you are divorced or separated.

The first is both parents should commit to communicating as effectively as your circumstances allow.  This may have to be done by telephone, email or even through your lawyers if you are still unable to talk face-to-face.  However, you do need to discuss holiday plans, day care and visiting schedules, and agree how you’ll deal with any changes that may need to be made to your schedule.  This could be managed via a shared electronic calendar if it’s easier.

The next suggestion is to agree the contact pattern that works best for everyone.

As parents it is important for you both to have an equal amount of quality time with your children during all holidays.  During the longer summer holidays, you could split the time in half or operate on an alternating week basis.  For shorter holidays like Easter or Christmas you could alternate each year.  Again, you need to be prepared that communication will be key if you are to find the solution that suits you best.

Our third suggestion, and another that requires effective communication, is to agree how you will handle handovers.  Your children must feel absolutely secure when they move from one parent to the other.  This could involve choosing a neutral location for the handover and/or a regular routine around the handovers

Most crucially both parents must understand the handover is not an opportunity to reignite old arguments in front of the children.

If you would like to discuss how best to agree the most suitable arrangements for the school holidays for your children with one of our experienced family barristers, please contact us today.

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