6 tips for negotiating contact over the school holidays
Half term is nearly here – and then the long, summer school holidays. If you are separated from your children’s other parent, negotiating contact can be stressful and upsetting. Without the routine of school and regular weekly activities, trying to satisfy both parents’ competing wishes for time with their children can be fraught with difficulty. Equally, it can be difficult if one parent is less willing to step up to their parenting responsibilities, but the other has work or other commitments to take into account. It’s a situation that all good family solicitors experience regularly, and our team of divorce and family lawyers has put together a list of 6 tips to help you negotiate contact over the school holidays.
- Make sure you are clear when the school holidays are
Both of you need to know when the holiday periods are. This also applies to INSET days which may impact on term time contact arrangements too. If you are the primary carer, it’s wise to let your former partner know as early as possible when holidays and INSET days are coming up so that you can both plan. Whatever your personal relationship the more you can agree when it comes to the children the better it will be for them. If you are not the primary carer, you may be able to ask the children’s school to provide you with information about school holiday dates, and dates of other events and activities so that you can stay informed without having to rely on your former partner passing information on.
- Address the question of contact during the school holidays early
It’s usually in the best interests of your children for you to be able to tell them what will be happening during the school holidays. It may be something that they themselves are anxious about knowing that the term time routine, whatever that is, may be disrupted. If you address the question of contact early, you are more likely to be able to resolve any conflicts smoothly, without time pressures of trying to agree arrangements at the last minute.
- Be honest about your plans
The best family lawyers in London will understand that you may feel reluctant to explain what your specific plans for the school holidays are. You may not want your former partner to hijack what you have planned or arrange something ‘better’ for when the children are staying with them. Although it’s tempting to play your cards close to your chest, in the long run, it’s better to be upfront about your plans, and how you see contact panning out during the school holidays. This in turn should encourage your ex to be upfront about their plans and you can move on to make practical arrangements such as how you will be able to stay in touch with your children while they are away from you.
- Agree how you will stay in touch with your children
You may feel anxious about your children being away from and want to be able to keep in touch with them. On the other hand, if you are calling all the time, you may disrupt the time your former partner has with the children, and put the children on edge too, if they pick up on your anxiety. You can avoid this by agreeing in advance how you will stay in touch with your children – and likewise, agree how your former partner can keep in touch while the children are with you. Providing contact details such as hotel telephone numbers will also help. If there is an emergency, you will know how you can get in touch with your children, and otherwise, stick to the arrangements you have made.
- Make the school holidays work for both of you
For any working parent, the school holidays can present particular issues relating to work and child care. While you probably want to spend as much time as possible with your children while they are off school, the demands of work may well dictate otherwise. If you are both working, the school holidays give you a long period of time to manage – and it can work to your advantage if you can sort out contact that fits in with both your work commitments.
- Apply to the court as a last resort
If you are genuinely struggling to agree contact arrangements for the school holidays, or you are concerned about your former partner’s plans for the holidays and they cannot or do not respond to your concerns, you may need to consider mediation or making an application to the court. Most London Family Solicitors will agree that this should be a last resort – a court application is potentially costly, can hamper your relationship with your former partner and impact on your children who may well be involved through Cafcass. On the other hand, there will be some situations that merit court intervention. Talking to one of our team of top family solicitors in London will enable you to understand the issues and get the advice and support you need.
OTS Solicitors are London Family Solicitors experienced at advising parents on all aspects of family law, including supporting parents as they negotiate contact arrangements for the school holidays with their former partner. We know that it can be an anxious and stressful time, and it is not always possible to agree contact easily. Our top Family Solicitors can make sure that you have the best family law advice and support as you finalise these arrangements. Telephone us today on 0203 959 9123 to book an appointment.