The sunny weather may have some of us dusting off our barbeques, sun loungers and cool boxes long forgotten in sheds and garages, but for some the summer holidays are full of stress and anxiety. If you have recently separated and have children you may feel completely out of your depth when it comes to negotiating  the arrangements needed for your children over the school holidays.

The school summer holidays are an extremely long time for the children to be home and if both parents work, this can be a logistical nightmare for even the most amicable of parents. I have therefore complied a handy checklist so that you can have everything in place in good time so that July and August go to plan, even if the weather doesn’t. 

Communicate early.

Whether this is over coffee, or through your respective solicitors get the conversations going now to avoid a last minute stressful flurry of activity. You should be giving the other parent details of any holidays you want to book, including dates, times, flight details, accommodation details, anything that takes the fear of the unknown away. 

If this is the first year you are holidaying separately you may have to give a little more information to put the other parent’s mind at ease. In terms of the other weeks off school, get together to work out how childcare will work over the summer break to make sure you each have enough holiday to cover this time, or you can agree the arrangements for childcare with grandparents etc. Whatever you plan, discuss it early.

Agree the detail.

You need to agree to handover passports, sports equipment, tablets (the computer kind), tablets (the medicinal kind) to make sure the children have what they need while they are with the other parent. They may be with one parent for longer than usual so make sure the children have what they need so that they don’t feel anxious or upset over the break.

Formal agreements.

If there is a Court Order in place that determines where the children would usually live, but does not deal with holidays, then, although you may not need permission from the other parent to travel within the UK over the summer break, you will need their permission to move away from the usual arrangements. This comes back to early communication and making sure that if you are changing weekends that are included in an order, then an alternative is agreed so that both parents are happy and more importantly, the children are happy.

Telephone/Skype contact.

Agree times and dates for additional contact with the parent that will not be on holiday with the children so that they can still speak with them, and there are no long gaps between the children and the other parent speaking with each other.

Imagine if the sandal were on the other foot.

If you think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be allowed to take the children to Disneyland Florida for two weeks, you need to be prepared to allow the other parent to do a similar thing (as long as it’s safe for them to do so). Imagine it was the other parent asking to take the children away for longer than a week. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable with this you may need to adjust your plans, again, especially if this is the first year of separation.

In essence communication and compromise is key to a happy summer break.