Divorced or separated? How to prepare for the challenges of the holiday season
Going on a holiday after divorce or separation can be a stressful situation to navigate, particularly when children are involved.
The trip may be met with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. It is not just the destination, packing, and logistics that need to be sorted out – there are many emotional and legal aspects to consider as well.
To alleviate some of this stress, here are some key points to keep in mind before heading out for your holiday.
Before planning a holiday, it is crucial to be aware of the legalities involved in taking your child(ren) on a trip.
- Review existing child arrangements: Every agreement between parents is different, and your agreement or Child Arrangements Order may contain specific clauses about holidays and travel arrangements. In either case, the arrangements usually outline the need for consent from the other parent. There may also be additional requirements imposed such as geographical restrictions depending on your family circumstances.
- Seek Legal Consent: Your existing agreement or Child Arrangement Order is likely to require written consent from the other parent before leaving. Even if it doesn’t it may not hurt to confirm your trip in writing. This is because in some cases, taking a child overseas without the other parent’s consent could be considered abduction and have serious legal ramifications.
- Keep Documentation: Always carry a copy of your agreement or order alongside the child’s other important documents. This is especially important for international travel where you might need to prove your rights as a parent or guardian at border controls.
Clear, open communication is fundamental when planning a trip with your child post-divorce.
- Inform the other parent: Let the other parent know about your travel plans well in advance, even if it’s not legally required. It’s a matter of common courtesy and assures that their child is safe.
- Share itinerary: Provide the other parent with a copy of your itinerary. This includes flight details, accommodation, contact numbers, and any other relevant information.
- Establish and maintain communication norms: Decide on how and when the child will communicate with the other parent during the trip. It’s important to maintain a routine, whether it’s a daily video call or a goodnight text.
The impact on a child’s emotions can be as important as the legal and logistical factors.
- Acknowledge feelings: Recognise that your child might have mixed feelings about the holiday. They might be excited but also apprehensive about being away from their other parent. It’s essential to address these feelings, reassure them, and ensure they know it’s okay to feel this way.
- Stay positive: Speak positively about the other parent. It’s not a competition, and your child needs to know they are loved by both parents, regardless of where they are spending their holiday.
While planning a holiday as a divorced or separated parent might be challenging, it can also be an enriching experience for both you and your child.
Ensuring you’ve taken legal, emotional, and logistical considerations into account can help make the holiday a more positive experience for all involved and prevent unnecessary legal action and distress.
If you have any queries about new or existing child arrangements or need family law advice, please contact us.
I have spent several years specialising in complex private children matters including situations where one parent lives outside of the UK’s jurisdiction, requiring urgent applications to safeguard children and change of residence.
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