Uncertainty about how summer holidays might shape up this year means separated families should consider making flexible written parenting plans right now, says a leading family dispute resolution charity currently providing its services by video conference.
Arrangements for children during the long school vacation always provide headaches for separated parents. This year, the delayed easing of restrictions is set to coincide with the start of the school holiday.
Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, stresses the importance of parents getting a flexible written agreement in place in advance of the six-week break.
She says a number of summertime factors are behind this, including:
- more family time together in close proximity
- changes in established daily routines
- the expense of going away, if that proves possible, and keeping family members entertained.
“As children grow up, their needs and expectations change,” says Jane Robey. “For this reason, families often find arrangements that worked well in the past are now outdated.
“This means that arguments and differences between separated parents about how to address the changes can reach breaking point when the long summer holiday looms.”
She says that waiting until the schools break up in July to start thinking about parenting arrangements can be too late to influence what too easily becomes a six-week nightmare.
“Pick-up, drop-offs and living arrangements can be exposed as inadequate through July and August. Frustrations and resentments can easily resurface, and the children are caught in the middle,” adds Jane Robey.
“A written Parenting Plan is an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for after separation or divorce. Its value is that you both tailor it to suit your own circumstances.”
She says that as time goes on, and as the child grows up and parents’ jobs and relationships change, the Parenting Plan can be updated to match changing need.
To find out more contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636 or go to www.nfm.org.uk