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Top considerations for managing child contact arrangements during school holidays

Separated families can look to advice from family law experts this summer to ensure child contact arrangements run smoothly over the school holidays.

Following ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19th, household ‘bubbles’ are no longer recommended by the Government, meaning that large groups of family members can now gather and stay indoors together.

For children taking part in extra-curricular activities over the summer holidays, they may still be encouraged to adhere to restrictions put in place by individual schools, nurseries, activity centres and sports facilities, so it is worth checking before making plans.

From applying for court orders, to making independent plans and keeping interaction civil, the family law specialists at JMP Solicitors have shared advice on best conduct for contact in separated families this summer.

Neil Remnant head of family law at JMP Solicitors, said: “The long summer break is a time for families to get together – it’s an exciting school holiday for children, but following a relationship breakdown between parents, it can be very difficult to keep a sense of ‘togetherness’.

“The past school year has already been unsettling for children, so parents should work together to ensure the summer holidays are without conflict. Considering the family dynamic is very important for the health, safety and welfare of the children – so spending time organising a schedule for each parent to commit to will ensure fair and equal contact time for children, providing them with structure and a routine over the summer weeks.

“Ensure that children remain as happy as possible this summer, and to minimise damage in the aftermath of divorce or separation, it is extremely important and should be a priority for both parents – so we’ve compiled a list of key considerations to keep summer conflict-free and more manageable.”

Here is the list of five considerations for managing child contact arrangements during school holidays:

  1. Make fair and safe arrangements 

If you can make arrangements for summer without legal interference, then it is advisable to do so. It is important to be civil and organise a summer schedule that’s fair to the child and the parents. If such an agreement is not possible, then the court may become involved to ensure contact time during the school holidays is fair to everyone. If parents do not comply, when there is no reasonable excuse or exception, then the non-resident parents have the right to seek enforcement action, so it is always best for parents to sort arrangements between themselves.

Based on the latest high court advice, if the child has tested positive for COVID-19, or someone in the child’s household has tested positive – they should not move between households for contact with parents. If a child has been told to self-isolate, but they have not had direct contact with someone who has tested positive, then they can still travel between households for contact with parents.

  1. Don’t argue

Following the separation of parents, children will already feel unsettled, the experience of the pandemic up to now could be adding more stress to an already confusing time. The school summer holidays are a chance for valuable family time, so for the sake of keeping a child happy and secure, it’s important to stay calm, cheerful and to keep arguments for another day.


  1. Be amicable

In terms of previous summer holiday routines – it’s important to stick to what children will remember and what is traditional for them.

If you tend to go out for day trips, visit new places, enjoy visits to the cinema or local parks during the summer holidays, then try and stick to similar activities. It’s these exciting prospects and quality time spent together that children will remember, and whatever arrangements are decided for the holidays, it’s important to know that structure is key.

  1. Stick to court orders

If the post-divorce or separation situation means it’s not possible for arrangements to be made by yourself, then the court can get involved to ensure that summer holiday arrangements are sorted. The court will seek to deal with matters in a constructive way and in the interest of the children. As this will involve a court order, the arrangements made will be legally enforceable. It’s important to do this as early as possible as there could be a backlog in cases, due to the pandemic.

  1. Communicate with family virtually

Due to changes families may have faced during the pandemic, summer this year might feel different for children without the usual presence of certain family members or friends. Make sure children can still have contact with extended family through virtual communication methods such as Facetime, Zoom or Skype, or via phone calls.

Posted in Wellbeing News