If it is anything like in our house, the school holidays sneak up on us- as grandparents- when we are not looking and suddenly days we thought were child free become a whirlwind of activity with grandchildren and dogs!
School holidays are a time when there can be disagreement between separated parents, it is hard not to be with your children on those special holidays or birthdays, parents can feel left out and worry that the child is missing out on that special time with them. So how do we deal with those problems?
Just as you would normally plan a holiday to go away, months in advance, think in advance about how you can share the upcoming holiday. Everybody’s lives are different and there is no fixed arrangement that suits all, if either parent works a different shift pattern then it is reasonable to take this into consideration.
If it becomes necessary to ask a District Judge at the Family Court he or she will look to try and divide any major holidays down the middle and if they fall on those special occasions (and I am trying not to mention Christmas) then to be fair, it is likely that a Judge would give the parents contact with the children on alternate years. Obviously, Christmas is a long enough holiday for different parts of it to be shared, the days leading up to THE DAY itself- as school holidays seem to be so long- then boxing day and the days leading up to New Year. The children will no doubt enjoy the two celebrations!
If, however you find yourself in a situation where a special occasion, or holidays or contact in general cannot be agreed between separating partners, there are other avenues to try before you need to even consider going to court. If the planning is early enough and it has not been left to the last minute, we can direct you to Family Mediators who can work with you to help you together to agree on an outcome.
If it is helpful you can choose to have solicitor assisted mediation where each party has their own legal representative with them at the mediation, this provides support and encouragement in making good decisions and the confidence that you are not on your own but have help.
Many different areas, where there is disagreement, can be dealt with in this way. Having your solicitor on board at the time means that many people who would not otherwise have the confidence to attempt mediation can still avail themselves of this procedure. The presence of the solicitor also means that the necessary agreement or order that follows on from the mediation can be drafted swiftly and easily because – for example in financial matters- the law can be explained as you move forward and the agreement will not need to be challenged or changed later in the solicitor’s office. (Mediators are not allowed to advise you on the law)
If your mediation is successful you are likely to save a lot of money as it costs more to persue a contested case at court than to attend mediation and settle. Legal aid for mediation is still available in appropriate cases.
At Capron and Helliwell we have other ideas about ways to settle different types of disputes and are happy to be involved in the area of bringing people together making good decisions.
This article was written on 20 October 2017 and the law may change following this date.
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that any law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.
Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.