Easter’s challenges for separated couples

Jennifer peebles portrait.

Jennifer Peebles


Phone 01264 325823

Email jpeebles@bsandi.co.uk

With the next set of school holidays rapidly approaching, parents will be gearing up to take time off work to spend with their children. However, for some, the Easter break will reignite tensions. In particular, separated parents may find themselves locking horns over arrangements for their children.

The ideal scenario is that parents pull together to make the holiday period work for everyone. Nevertheless, we see the struggles faced by those who are not on great terms. They may have navigated months without having to have communicated all that much, simply carrying through arrangements set by the courts. The run-up to school holidays usually forces conversations to happen. One parent might want the child to be with them on different days, for example and one major sticking point and cause of conflict, can be where one wants to take the child abroad and the other parent isn’t willing for that to happen.  

The overseas aspect of this is important because it brings the legal concept of ‘parental responsibility’ into sharp focus. Where a parent wants to take their child out of the country, everyone who has parental responsibility for that child must agree to it. In some cases, a parent may scupper the other’s plans by objecting. Where that happens, the court may need to become involved in deciding whether the holiday should go ahead.  

The stresses that can be involved in these types of situations benefit no one. That’s why we urge clients to think ahead; discuss their proposed plans with their former partner early and aim for constructive dialogue. I know that that will be easier for some than others. Clients have told us that they are sometimes motivated by not wanting to ‘give in’ to their ex’s requests or by not wanting to give up their own time with their child. While those are entirely understandable positions, an alternative (and one the courts adopt) is to place the child’s best interests above everything else.

As difficult as it may be to separate best interests from the issues you have with your former partner, it really is key to doing the right thing. That is the same, whether what’s up for discussion is an extra day’s contact over the school holidays or a trip to Barcelona.  Equally, if you are the parent making the request, be prepared to have this discussion and to hear the other perspective – and the sooner the better.

For help with any issues around child arrangements, please contact Jennifer or another member of the family team on 01264 353411 or at family@bsandi.co.uk.

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