Child paddling in a warm seaIt is especially important for separated families to plan ahead where arrangements need to be made in respect of  children over holiday periods.

Consideration needs to be given to any foreign holidays planned and whether this is agreed with the other parent or whether an order from the court will be required before you can remove your child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The last thing you want is to get to border control and be refused permission to board your flight. If the other parent has parental responsibility for your child and you do not have a “Child Arrangements” (“Live With”) order, then you need their permission to remove your child from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, even for a holiday.

If it is envisaged that a dispute might arise between you and the other parent in respect of the arrangements for the summer holiday, then the best piece of advice is to PLAN AHEAD in an attempt to avoid any unnecessary distress and conflict. Any delay in resolving the arrangements is likely to exacerbate any dispute by putting unnecessary pressure on you due to the impending holiday. If you are unable to resolve matters via direct discussion, then there are a number of alternative options including solicitor-led negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and, ultimately, a court application.

A court application should be seen as a last resort, as there are often no winners when a judge has to determine how your children will spend their time over the summer holiday period. If however, an application to the court is necessary, prompt action needs to be taken to ensure that there is judicial time for any such application to be made, as the court list fills up quickly in the weeks leading up to the summer holiday period. The application to be made to the court will be for a “Specific Issues” order, which contains directions to resolve a particular dispute i.e. whether the child can be taken abroad. The court does not grant these orders lightly.

When considering any application in respect of a child, the following four principles are given the highest priority:

      1. The children’s welfare is of paramount importance.
      2. Any delay in sorting out the arrangements for the children is likely to prejudice the welfare of the children.
      3. The court shall not make an order unless it considers that doing so would be better for the children than making no order at all. This is the “No Order Principle”. The court will not make an order if the parents can agree things between themselves.
      4. It is presumed, unless the contrary is shown, that involvement of both parents in the life of the child concerned will further the child's welfare.

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