Many families look forward to the school holidays with excitement as long awaited annual holidays take place. After the confinement to home everyone has experienced over the past year some parents cannot wait to leave their homes and escape on holiday for a week or two.
However, for many separated and divorced couples it can be a time of contention and disagreement between them, not only as to the location and duration of vacations but also whether the destination is Covid safe. The uncertainties of the constantly changing holiday guidelines, particularly in relation to the traffic light system together with Covid-19 still circulating at home and abroad it is not surprising that some parents have different views as to whether such trips are safe.
It is not only disputes over holidays causing issues at this time but disagreements over a child’s vaccination may also cause an issue if parents have differing views. Family lawyers have become aware of an increasing number of enquiries from parents as to what happens if there is disagreement between them on vaccination for their children.
From Monday 19 July 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is advising that children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been authorised for children in the UK, for those aged 12 or older following a clinical trial conducted in the United States.
If parents disagree there are various options open to them but the primary action has to be to communicate and try to resolve the dispute amicably. If this cannot be achieved then it may be that the matter has to be taken to the Family court for a decision.
This is dealt with by way of a Specific Issue Order or a Prohibitive Steps Order. This can be done on an urgent basis if the holiday or vaccination is coming up in the near future. The process will include a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM), to ascertain whether the issue could be best solved outside of the court. This could involve engaging in a range of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods.
When coming to a decision, the court’s paramount consideration will be the welfare of the child(ren). The court will hear and analyse the evidence of both parties. Without a good reason for opposing a holiday which can be backed up by sufficient evidence the court is likely to grant permission for the holiday to take place. Once the court has made a decision it will then be binding on both parties.
Prohibited Steps Orders and Specific Issue Orders can, of course, be utilised in other Children Act matters and if you would like advice on any aspect of Children Act matters or family law telephone 01279 799598 or email
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