Child paddling in a warm seaSummer holidays, I hear you groan, however, July will soon be upon us and it is important to plan ahead. This is especially true for separated families, where arrangements need to be made to address what will be happening in respect of the plans for your children over the summer holiday period.

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.

The matters which need to be taken into account when determining the arrangements for any children are set out at Section 1 (3) of the Children Act 1989 and are known collectively as the “Welfare Checklist”. They are as follows:-

      1. The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his/her age and understanding).
      2. His/her physical, emotional and educational needs.
      3. The likely effect on him/her of any change in his/her circumstances.
      4. His/her age, sex, background and any characteristics of his/her which the court considers relevant.
      5. Any harm which he/she has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
      6. How capable each of his/her parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his/her needs.

When submitting such an application, the court will require information about the proposed plans for the holiday and how the other parent will be able to communicate with their child whilst away.

You may wish to obtain some advice about arrangements for your children over the summer holiday period. We have family law specialists available who can provide legal advice and assistance. If you would wish to speak with one of our specialists, please do contact our friendly team.


Important guidance on articles published by Fitzhugh Gates Solicitors

Articles published through this website contain only general advice and are not intended as professional counsel and should not be used as such.

If you require specific advice on a particular issue or problem highlighted by this article, then please contact Fitzhugh Gates, the Solicitors for Brighton and Hove and Shoreham-by-Sea. 


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