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Separated parents braced for tricky conversations over summer holiday childcare

With the long school holidays looming, many families are dreaming about a well-earned break together, maybe soaking up the sun somewhere hot or getting stuck into activities closer to home.
However, for families where the parents have separated, the long summer break can prove to be something of a minefield when it comes to arranging childcare.

Separated parents braced for tricky conversations over summer holiday childcare

Research carried out by legal services group Slater  and Gordon found that only 5% of separated couples have a formal childcare arrangement in place when it comes to summer holidays.

Of those that said they don’t have a formal arrangement in place, 37% said they have an informal approach with 33% saying they co-parented efficiently.

It can be equally complicated for single parents who struggle to arrange childcare for the long summer break because they are working or don’t have a support network to rely on.

Disagreements about where the children will be from one week to the next are common and often painful. This can get even more complicated if a child is going abroad.

The research also found that 33 per cent of separated couples have argued about their children’s care over the summer break with 22 per cent disagreeing over childcare arrangements.

Only 42% of people said they’d let their ex take their child on holiday with their new partner and only 29% have actually allowed it. In addition, 13% of people said they’d deny their child going abroad with the other parent if they  couldn’t match the experience.

It is important that separated couples don’t use child arrangements as a bargaining ploy in such negotiations and what is in the child’s welfare and best interests must be the first consideration.

Georgina Chase, Head of Practice – Family at Slater and Gordon, said: “Trying to co-parent responsibly and harmoniously is difficult at any time and this can be even harder during the long summer break.

“Arrangements for children during this time can become problematic and it’s not always easy to share the responsibility equally. Also, if a parent wants to take a child away on holiday – possibly with a new partner – this can create  more friction.

“One way to help mitigate against the potential for future disagreements is to agree child arrangements in advance, entering into a parenting plan. By doing this, you can amicably agree childcare  and holiday time with your ex-partner months before the summer holidays, ensuring both parents are aware and can prepare for what is expected of them.  This will also ensure that children have exciting holiday plans with both their parents to look forward  to.

“This not only provides both parents with the additional support they may require during the summer break, but also allows children to spend more time with their parents while they are not in  school.

“Working with a specialist Family Law solicitor or mediator to reach an agreement regarding child arrangements outside of Court, often results in a more amicable relationship between separated  parents, which is much less likely to impact a child negatively.”

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