The time of year is approaching when thought turns to the summer holidays.
What can you do if you are enjoying regular contact and wish to take your child or children away with you on holiday, whether it is a short break in this country or a foreign holiday further afar?
Ideally any such decision should be reached amicably between both parents and it is important to ensure that you notify the parent with care of the child(ren) as far in advance as possible of holiday plans and seek to agree appropriate arrangements between you.
However when both parents cannot agree on what holiday arrangements are appropriate for the children or where the parent with care opposes a reasonable request to take the children away on holiday, what action can be taken?
The first consideration would be whether an independent mediator could assist both parents in reaching agreement in respect of appropriate holiday plans without the need to refer the matter to the Court.
In the event that agreement cannot be reached there may be no other option but to apply to the local Family Court under the Children Act 1989 for a Specific Issue Order. Within such proceedings the Court will consider and prioritise the best interests of the children and will ultimately determine whether permission should be granted for the children to be taken on holiday, if the principle of the holiday was in dispute, or alternatively determine the most appropriate holiday arrangements for the children, for example if there was a dispute in respect of whether the holiday should be within this country or abroad or for one week or two.
Before imposing a decision upon parents on a contested basis the Court will endeavour to assist parents to resolve the matter by agreement, perhaps by suggesting initially a shorter holiday in this country or alternatively seeking to allay the worries and concerns of the parent with care with an order including a requirement for full travel details to be provided in advance or for regular telephone contact to take place during the holiday etc.
It is essential to ensure that any disputed issues concerning holiday plans are addressed without delay as a request for an urgent Court Order within days of a planned holiday is likely to result in disappointment for parents and children alike.
By family executive, Lauren Day