Article published in North East Times

The 2012 Olympics are upon us which also means that the school summer holidays are fast approaching.  The Olympics have been years in the planning to hopefully ensure the smooth running of a unique Summer of sport and entertainment.  It is worth bearing in mind, however, that this time of year is also one when separated parents are faced with the often difficult task of ensuring that the summer holidays pass equally smoothly. Often we find that parents who have been managing structured term-time arrangements without problems find themselves facing lack of agreement with their former partner over the arrangements for the long summer holidays. Communication can break down and arrangements can become more complicated for example, when new partners are involved, or if a trip abroad is envisaged.

Planning and preparation are key to ensuring both parents can navigate the marathon summer holiday without excessive tension and it is better to start having the conversations sooner rather than later.

From our experience here are a few points to think about:-

  1. Try and agree the times that the children will spend with each parent well in advance.  Apart from avoiding last minute tensions this will also reduce some of the stress on working parents of having to organise childcare during the holidays.
  1. If either parent is planning a holiday abroad agreement should always be in place before flights/hotels etc.  Most parents have parental responsibility for this children and it is a legal requirement that there should be consent from both parents for children to be taken abroad.  Urgent applications to the court the week before a holiday to seek a Judges permission are both costly and stressful.
  1. Do try and provide details of travel arrangements and where you will be staying.
  1. Try and agree what contact will take place when the children are away from either parent.  Skype, email or telephone all make maintaining contact so easy these days.

In an ideal world, like the Olympics, forward planning means everything should go without a hitch. However as we at Major Family Law know even with the best planning unforeseen problems can arise. Separated parenting can be complex and often far from easy.  In the event that agreement can’t be reached or breaks down it is important to seek specialist advice at the earliest opportunity.  There are a wide range of options including mediation, collaborative law or the court process to help families facing the hurdle of the holidays with no agreed plans in place.


Written by Anna Hunter, Associate and Collaborative Child lawyer Specialist at Major Family Law, Ponteland, NE20 9SU. T: 01661 82 45 82 W: Twitter@1ANNAHUNTER