Summer Holiday Strains
As Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fight over time spent with their children over the summer, how should these issues be resolved?
Although each case is different and several factors will be taken into account, generally the case is that both parents should spend extended time with the children during school holidays. Often the court takes the view that school holidays should be divided equally between the parents if circumstances allow meaning each parent has 3 weeks with the children over the summer holiday. This need not necessarily be back to back and it is not uncommon for this to be broken down into two (or more) shorter periods.
It is best to discuss these arrangements with each other giving plenty of notice, to agree what will work for you both and the children. Planning holidays can seem like a military operation and it is best to be clear exactly which day and at what time, handovers will take place. Mediation can be a helpful option where parents disagree.
If one of you wants to take the children on a holiday outside of the UK, you will usually need the permission of the other parent. There are exceptions if the parent wanting to go abroad has a court order stating that the child lives with them (in this case they can go abroad for up to 28 days without consent) or if the other parent does not have parental responsibility (in which case that parent’s consent is not required). All mothers and most fathers will have parental responsibility, so this exception is rare.
It is best to get a letter from the other parent confirming in writing that permission is given, with details of the holiday and contact details of the parent giving consent. This should be taken with you when you travel so that it can be presented at UK or foreign border control if requested. If you have a different surname from your child it is also useful to have documents proving your relationship such as a birth certificate, and/or evidence of your change of name.
The general rule is that parents should not withhold consent unreasonably. If consent is not given, then the parent wishing to go abroad with the child can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order. Permission should be requested as early as possible to allow time for a court application if necessary.
The long summer holidays can be a bone of contention between parents with one parent not wanting the children to be away from them for an extended period, or making it difficult for the other parent to take the children abroad. On the other hand, having two separated parents to share the school holidays can have its benefits, especially for working parents who struggle with childcare costs. Children may count themselves lucky, perhaps getting a holiday away with each parent instead of spending time in childcare. The key is to communicate (where possible) with the other parent and think about the benefits for your children who will have an opportunity to learn about a new country and experience new adventures.
If you find that despite your best efforts you need help resolving issues over contact or permission to take a child abroad, please contact the Family team here at Coffin Mew.