Our guide to a happy holiday during difficult family times

The summer holidays are almost upon us. For many that will mean sun, sea, sand and smiley faces.

Spare a thought, however, for families experiencing the uncertainty of separation. Here are some tips and guidance to those families for whom the summer equals stress.

If a family has separated, usually the time each parent spends with their children will be arranged around the child's schooling and the parents' work commitments. No school for six weeks gives both parents more opportunity to spend longer periods of quality time with their children.

Sadly, this is not always the case and the school holidays can become flash points for conflict; causing anxiety, mistrust and acrimony between parents that inevitably filters down to the children. It is a good idea therefore to start to think proactively and make early arrangements for how the children will be looked after, to accommodate the whole family, and most importantly, the children's needs.

Here are our top tips to plan for a less stressful summer:

1. Exchange diaries for the whole of the holiday period in advance. This could include confirmed plans for dates away, or those which are proposed to take place. This will then allow you to work with each other and make sure the children can spend quality time with both of you.

2. Provide details of planned holidays away well in advance of the trip. This should include the address of the accommodation, flight details (if abroad) and emergency phone numbers. If both parents have all of the details available to them, this will increase the trust element and relieve any anxiety.

3. Keep in contact with the other parent. It would be a good idea to agree in advance when and how often contact will be made by telephone, email, Skype etc. so that neither parent feels forgotten (or bombarded!) by the children or each other. Children will often want to tell their mum or dad about the activities they have been doing that day, so this will undoubtedly be a positive step and not a burden.

4. Compromise with dates. If the extended holidays affect the usual day-to-day routine and structure of time in each parent's care, try and agree alternative periods so that the children can still spend time with both parents, especially when they have spent a long time away.

The key is pre-planning and not to forget to communicate as much as possible with the other parent. If communication is not so easy then there are avenues available to you, such as Family Mediation.

Finally, don't be afraid to seek advice from a solicitor. Our expert family solicitors will be able to identify your main concerns, provide sound advice and explore your options, with you and your children's best interests at heart.

To speak to a member of our Family Law team today, please call 0113 201 4900 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk.

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