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16 May 2024
Avoiding Holiday Conflict over Children in Divorce

With the holiday season looming many families are looking forward to an annual holiday with much excitement.  However, it is not always so straightforward for separated and divorced couples with holidays becoming a time of contention and disagreement.  Any holiday should be planned with the best interest of the children in mind and they should not become a battleground.

Open communication and transparency between all parties (including the children) and early planning can help to avoid last minute legal intervention and reduce anxiety.   Details including destination, accommodation, travel arrangements including flight details etc should all be available.    Giving the child flexibility to communicate with the parent at home if they so wish may help.

The majority of children are likely to be excited by the prospect of their holiday and eagerly look forward to it.  However, if they are aware of one parent’s anxiety or anger this may cause them anxiety as they try to appease both parents. 

A parent without parental responsibility cannot take a child on holiday or abroad without permission as it may be classed as child abduction.

If there are serious disagreements and parents cannot resolve these without legal intervention 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 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 including arbitration.

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 and will only oppose a holiday if backed up by sufficient evidence or there are safeguarding concerns.  The court looks upon holidays with a parent as beneficial to the children rather than a danger.

Once the court has made a decision it will then be binding on both parties.

Contact Spectrum Family Law for help and advice on children and all family law matters.

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