Child arrangements during the summer holidays

Section 20 arrangements

The school holidays are just around the corner, with many children in the UK looking forward to a long summer of sunshine. However, for some separated parents it is not just too much sun which might cause a headache during the summer holidays.

A frequent issue for separated parents is where their child should spend their holiday, especially when the separation is recent. Agreeing how much time a child should spend with each parent during their holidays can be difficult, causing conflict between parents and disappointment for the child. We look at what you can do if your former partner is causing problems over child arrangements during the summer holidays.

What if I have a court order already in place?

If you have a child arrangements order in place during the summer holidays, and the children are registered as ‘living with you’ on the order, you can take your children abroad for up to four weeks without the need to seek the permission of anyone else with parental responsibility. If you plan to be away with your children beyond four weeks, you will need to ask for written confirmation from all those with parental responsibility. They need to agree to this or make a specific issue application to the court to request permission to adjust the order and allow for a longer period of travel.

I don’t have a court order, what should I do?

If there is no court order in place and you are the only one with parental responsibility then you should be able to take your child abroad without it being an issue. It remains open for anyone, including your former partner, to apply for an order at any time should they wish to. The court will then decide if the trip is in the child’s best interests and can consider if you have acted reasonably, especially if you have failed to notify the other parent without good reason.

If there is someone else with parental responsibility however you will need the written consent of all those with parental responsibility or to make an application to court for a specific issue order. If you do not do this, it is a criminal offence, child abduction and serious consequences may apply.

What are my options if an agreement can’t be made?

In certain circumstances, you must attend mediation with your former partner. In mediation you will meet with a trained mediator and have the opportunity to try to resolve the dispute without having to go to court.

If parents cannot reach an agreement in mediation then an application to the court can be made. Before making an order, the court will first consider if it is in the child’s best interests to do so. The court can then either make an order by consent or at a Final Hearing after hearing evidence.

A Child Arrangements Order usually lasts until a child is 16, but it can be varied or discharged at any time by the court if this is in the child’s best interest.

How can we help?

Carla Williams is a Chartered Legal Executive working exclusively in the Family Law Team who has extensive experience of working with parents.

Should you wish to discuss any of these issues further, please contact a member of the Family Team at Bromleys on 0161 330 6821 for a free initial telephone consultation. Alternatively you can fill in our online form or you can email us at and we will call you back.