With summer vacation on the horizon, separated parents often face challenges dividing their children’s holidays. Effective communication and planning between the parents is essential.

Resolving Disagreements on Holiday Arrangements

While many separated parents can strike a balance in terms of agreeing where, when and with whom a child will spend their holidays, disputes sometimes necessitate 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 consider the child’s best interests.

Key factors include:

  • The Court gaining full knowledge of the children’s circumstances
  • The history of the parents’ relationship
  • Existing or past arrangements

General Guidelines for Holiday Division

A General understanding of how the court might deal with certain holiday arrangements can provide some clarity. In terms of the school holidays, this means Easter, summer break, Christmas and half-terms.

Summer Break:

  • 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 to be divided into two equal halves. For example, if summer is eight weeks long the split would be 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.

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:

Easter and Christmas can be more complex due to 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 work schedules and what is best for the children.
  • Christmas can cause further issues given its significance for many people. Many parents will opt to alternate between Christmas and New Years 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.

Importance of Planning for School Holidays

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 Parents should prioritise discussing and planning these periods to ensure both have quality time with their children without causing disruption. By anticipating any challenges and proactively addressing them, separated parents can create a more stable and enjoyable holiday experience for their children.


This Article was first published in the Royal Gazette in Bermuda

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