The summer holidays are now well and truly upon us. Whilst they are a welcome break for the children after a long summer term, they can cause problems for separated parents who both want to make the most of the holidays with their children. Whether a holiday is planned at home or abroad, preparation is key. Here’s some summer holiday advice for separated families
The best solution, as always, is for parents to agree between them what should happen and the amount of time the child or children spend with them. If you agree what should happen, there is no need to involve a Court or a solicitor.
If this is not possible and agreement cannot be reached, then an application to the Court might be necessary to establish the level of time a child should spend with their parent. before doing so, it is advisable to speak with a solicitor first.
When looking at deciding a the amount of time a child or children should spend with their parent, the Court has a discretion but must always act in accordance with the overriding principle that it must act in the child’s best interests. The child’s welfare is paramount and comes above that of the parents.
When exercising its discretion the court should have regard to what is known as the “welfare checklist”. This is a set of factors the Court must look at and includes considering the child’s ascertainable wishes and feelings in light of their age and understanding. It is important to note that the earlier consideration of “welfare” is much broader than “wishes”. Just because a child wants to have contact, it does not automatically follow that a court will think that it should happen. The Court will also look at a child’s needs (which includes their physical and emotional needs), the effect of any change in circumstances and the characteristics of the child, which the Court considers that are relevant.
The Court is now required to presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the involvement of a parent in a child’s life will further a child’s welfare.
The court has a number of orders it can make which include a Child Arrangements Order which sets out the amount of time a child is spend with a parent, or live with a Parent. It can also make a Specific Issue Order to decide a particular issue where parents cannot agree, such a holiday, school attendance, etc. it can also make what is known as a Prohibited Steps order which can prevent a parent from doing certain things, such a s removing the child from the care of the other parent or travelling abroad on holiday.
Throughout all of this it is important to bear in mind that there is no such thing as parental rights. The legislation talks of parental responsibilities instead as a way of keeping the focus on the child.
Our family law team advises families across the South West on the best solutions for them. If you would like to get in touch with the team by telephone 0345 450 5558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org