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Disagreements about school holidays?

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

By Kelly Willmott

As the school summer holidays fast approach, it is likely that arrangements are being made for holidays and other plans with the children. In the case of separated parents, however, these plans may depend upon what can be agreed between them.

For parents and children alike, the holidays should provide a break from the routine and time to relax. Holidays abroad will also allow the children to experience new cultures and enjoy quality time with their parents. In the majority of cases, parents will reach an agreement about such trips and when these will take place.

When parents cannot agree, however, this can lead to a number of issues.

Firstly, no child can be taken out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the consent of every person with Parental Responsibility. The exception to this, however, is if a parent has a ‘Residence Order’ in their favour, as they are then able to take the child out of the Jurisdiction for up to one month at a time, without consent.

Where there is no ‘Residence Order’ in place, without consent, taking a child abroad can in the most serious cases, be viewed as child abduction. This can have criminal consequences. Taking a child abroad without consent should, therefore, be avoided.

If a holiday abroad is being planned for your child, you should determine whether you have parental responsibility and whether your consent is required. Discussions should take place about the specifics of the holiday and details of all holiday plans (to include flight times and numbers, accommodation details and contact numbers) should be provided in advance so that you know where the child will be and how to get in contact, should this be necessary.

Any one parent with parental responsibility can also apply for a passport on behalf of a child. As such, an agreement should be reached as to who applies for this, who holds it on a day to day basis and when the passport will be released and returned to the other parent for the purpose of agreed holidays.

If you still cannot agree, the issue can be referred to mediation, or negotiations through lawyers can take place, to try and resolve the arrangements. As a last resort, an application to the court may be required in order that the court can then determine the issue.

If an application to the court is required, you should ensure that it is lodged well in advance of the holiday, to make sure that the court will have time to deal with the matter before the proposed dates.

More often than not, the courts will take the approach that a child will benefit from a holiday. It is, therefore, essential that discussions take place to plan holiday arrangements at an early date, to avoid difficulties and costly court proceedings.

If you require any advice in relation to children matters, please do call DFA Law on 01604 609560 and we will be happy to help.

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