Booking family holidays can be a cause of conflict

This cold weather makes us think of the holidays and taking a break with the children. When you’re a separated parent the negotiations about holidays can cause headaches.

Even worse, children can be caught in the middle of arguments about dates, locations, rights and responsibilities.  Here’s a quick guide to avoiding some common difficulties.

Do I need permission from the other parent to go abroad?

If both parents have parental responsibility you need the consent of the other parent to take the children abroad. If consent is refused then you would need to apply to court for permission. The situation is different when one parent has a Residence Order as they can take the child outside of the UK for up to a month without the written consent of the other parent.

However, in the best interests of everyone, it’s always preferable to agree the arrangements in advance. It’s also reasonable to provide details of the travel arrangements together with information about where you’ll be staying and how you can be contacted in an emergency

We can never agree on the dates!

Ideally you should start planning well in advance and definitely before you book anything. It makes it much easier for everyone if you can make an outline plan at the start of the school year of all the holidays and half terms if possible. Both parents put forward their preferred dates with explanations if necessary, for example, if your dates are restricted by work commitments. Hopefully, with a bit of give and take, you can agree dates that suit everyone.

Keeping things as fair and as friendly as possible creates a nice atmosphere around the holidays which the children will appreciate. So, if you get the weeks you want this year, be prepared to let your ex have first choice next year.

If you haven’t already decided about the summer holidays I’d start thinking about them now. Don’t make the mistake of booking a holiday without consulting the other parent. You might think it will save you having to negotiate but it just stores up problems for the future.

Am I entitled to take the children out of school to go on holiday?

Before September 2013, heads in England were able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances”. Now, they are only able to grant absence in term time if there are “exceptional circumstances”.

Be warned – research by BBC One’s Breakfast programme, suggests the number of fines issued increased by more than 70 per cent last Autumn Term.

If you get stuck on any of these mediation can be a great place to work it out. Happy holidays!