Lawyer’s summer holiday warning

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AN ARBROATH family lawyer is warning parents to carefully consider custody arrangements before booking their summer holidays.

According to Sandra Sutherland, from Thorntons Solicitors, court settlements are becoming more common for divorced couples arguing over holiday arrangements.

She said: “Planning the annual trip can be a stressful time for parents as each tries to fit round each other’s holiday plans.

“However in almost every summer holiday dispute that we deal with, most could easily have been avoided if the parents took the time to speak to each other about it well in advance.”

Sandra points out that problems can arise when the regular routine of term time changes to the need to find childcare and book holidays. She said: “This is a costly way to decide holiday arrangements and ultimately it is the children that end up paying the biggest price if the judge rules that they can’t go on holiday. In order to avoid potential conflicts, expense and disappointment to the children, there are a number of steps that parents can take at an early stage, to avoid having to instruct solicitors and potentially go to court for a decision.”

Sandra suggests the following tips: Do not book holidays at the last minute, give all parties plenty of warning; exchange annual leave dates as soon as they are known so everyone can coordinate calendars; do not book holidays during term time and ensure there is plenty of time left to prepare for going back to school, judges do not look favourably on missing school; get everyone to agree to arrangements before booking, and if possible get it in writing; decide who is responsible for the children’s passports and when they will be handed over and finally, agree how much contact the child will have with the other parent at home.