With summer vacation fast approaching, dividing children’s holidays between separated parents can often be difficult. Open lines of communication and planning between the parents is essential.

What if two parents cannot agree on their holiday arrangements?

Many parents can strike a balance in terms of agreeing where, when and with whom a child will spend their holidays. However, sometimes separated parents seek assistance from lawyers and the family court to address holiday disputes.

It is very difficult to predict how the court would deal with a hypothetical case, because any determination that the court makes in relation to holiday arrangements will take into account the facts of each individual case and look at what is in a child’s best interests.

This involves full knowledge of the children involved, the history of the parents’ relationship and any arrangements that are already in place, or have been in place.

That being said, it is possible to provide some general understanding of how the court might deal with certain holidays. In terms of the school holidays, this means Easter, summer break, Christmas and half-terms.

Often, the long summer holiday will be split on a week-on/week-off basis, so that there is some routine for the children concerned and so that both parents are able to spend adequate time with them. In some cases, a mix of individual weeks with each parent and then two weeks with each parent may work better due to overseas travel or other plans.

It is rare for the summer holidays, if they are eight weeks long, for example, to be divided down the middle on a four-weeks-on/four-weeks-off basis. In circumstances where one parent has not spent lengthy periods of time with the children over a holiday, the court may determine that some form of stepped plan is best to arrive at prolonged holiday contact.

In relation to the half-terms, some parents may opt for an equal division of all half-term holidays, with a handover of the children taking place at some point during the holiday itself. Other parents will simply agree to have a set half-term holiday, with the other parent taking either the remaining two holidays or agreeing to take one and divide the third.

Easter and Christmas can be more complex, given the religious nature of these holidays. Easter can be divided equally, with each parent taking a set period of time with the children, depending on working plans and what is best of the children. Christmas can cause further issues, given that the holiday has such importance for many people. Many parents will opt to alternate between Christmas and New Year on an annual basis.

Where specific arrangements for school holidays have been put into place, the usual child arrangements will normally be suspended to provide both parents with sufficient time with the children, free from the requirement to make the children available to the other parent.

Holidays are a complex issue that many parents overlook when reaching an agreement in relation to spending time with their children. It is important to consider the importance of school holidays and how child arrangements will be worked and amended around these periods.


This article was first published in the Royal Gazette in Bermuda.

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