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Holiday heartache: when your divorced other half wants to take the children on holiday

Apr 09, 2018   ·   4 minute read

Holiday heartache: when your divorced other half wants to take the children on holiday

Some parents welcome their ex-partner taking the children off their hands for a couple of weeks; freedom to go to the gym, evenings out and no mud treading through the house. What’s bliss for some parents is agony for others, especially the first time that your ex takes the children away on holiday.

This week I read an article in the Daily Mail about one parent’s experience of her ex-husband taking their 2 daughters on holiday to Antigua for a fortnight, their first trip away from their mother after the separation. It made me think that after Easter the school summer holidays will soon be upon us.

I thought I would save the article to show parents. Why? Often mothers and fathers think that they are the only one to feel so bad about letting their children go off, whether the trip is abroad or camping in the UK or with an ex or grandparents. Sometimes it helps to know that there are other parents in the same boat. As a children lawyer, I have also found that sometimes parents find it really hard to understand why their ex won’t agree to a fortnight away and why they want to wait to build the holiday time up from a weekend to a week away and then gradually moving to the fortnight’s holiday. They think it is meanness when it really can be genuine fear of not having the children around and the break with the family routine.

It is often difficult to accept how your ex feels and so sometimes reading a strangers words in a press article makes it easier to understand the other parent’s reaction to the request to sort out holidays or their demands to speak to the children daily whilst on holiday, whatever the time difference.

Top tips for sorting out the hols

They may seem obvious but sometimes in the heat of an argument it is easy to forget what you already know such as:

  • Think about holidays early in the year so you both have time to make plans and book time off work and avoid clashes ; will the children want to go to the same resort with each of you with a day between flights – that can happen without communication;
  • Don’t tell the children about your planned holiday until it is agreed with the ex;
  • Do tell your ex if you are going on holiday with the children with a new partner and their children ; your ex may not like it but they do need to know from you rather than hearing about the plans from the children;
  • Think about going on holiday with other family members such as grandparents as that might reassure your ex and provide a new experience for the children and make their first holiday without their other parent something different to enjoy;
  • Do give flight and hotel details; while it is unlikely anything will happen the information and emergency contact details give a bit of reassurance to the other parent;
  • Do communicate; you will normally need your ex-partner’s agreement to take the children abroad on holiday and if they won’t agree you will need a Court order. It is normally a lot easier to get agreement if there is a dialogue about holiday plans
  • Do say if things go wrong; flights can be delayed or we can all fall foul of a motorway holdup, sun stroke or the trip to accident and emergency.

As a children lawyer I spend a lot of time helping parents reach agreements over the arrangements for their children and, if necessary sorting out Court orders. Holidays can be a bit of a bug bear for many parents, with some wanting their ex to take the children on a 50 / 50 basis so they can juggle their work with school holidays and with others struggling to cope with the thought of their children going away at all. Whatever your situation, with a bit of advice, a compromise can usually be reached in time for the summer school holidays.

For advice on any aspect of children law please call me on +44 (0) 1477 464020 or email me at