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Negotiating Summer Holiday Childcare Arrangements

View profile for Catherine Wheatcroft
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With the school holidays upon us, many parents will be preparing themselves for six weeks of juggling their work commitments and spending time with their children.  

For divorced or separated parents, being able to rely on each other for backup childcare may no longer be an option unless you are on good terms. Amanda Brown, Solicitor at Family Law Group in Nottingham, gives you her top tips for negotiating childcare arrangements with your ex and staying on favourable terms:

  1. Agree a set timetable – You may already have plans in place for term-time arrangements, but the school holidays may demand more flexibility on all sides.  However, having a set timetable of when you will each have the children over the holidays can help you to plan work and other commitments around your childcare duties.
  2. Handover in a neutral place – If the fallout from your divorce or separation is still raw, then it may be easier emotionally to hand over the children in a neutral place, such as a park or coffee shop.  Keeping it public can help to avoid the temptation to have an argument.
  3. Make sure you are on time – While sometimes a delay is unavoidable, being persistently late for collecting or dropping off the children will only lead to resentment.  You may no longer have goodwill on your side, especially if you keep your ex waiting when they need to get to work.  So show courtesy and telephone, or text, if you are held up in traffic or know you are going to be late.
  4. Avoid rows on the telephone – Children witness a lot more than parents may be aware of, and their senses are heightened when there is family turmoil.  You may think they are playing in the other room, but they may well be listening at the door.  Arguments on the telephone can be particularly unproductive, leaving both sides feeling resentful.  If there is a problem, discussing it face-to-face, without the children, is more likely to resolve it.
  5. Keep money and contact separate – Do not be tempted to hold the kids to ransom if your ex is late with a child maintenance payment.  Even if your ex has not paid a penny of child maintenance, preventing them from seeing the children could backfire on you. Children are entitled to have contact with both parents, and except in exceptional cases, the family court is likely to agree.

Negotiating arrangements for children with your ex can be difficult but if approached positively, you could be able to rely on each other for support even at short notice.  However, you may want to agree a set of rules beforehand.  For example, would you be happy for a new partner or grandparents to look after the children if your ex is not available?  Are there activities that you would prefer the children not to take part in, such as going to a theme park or trampolining?  As they get older, you may need to discuss rules for curfews and friends.  

Using Mediation or Collaborative Law can be an excellent way for parents to negotiate arrangements for children. For more information on making arrangements for children or any family law matter, contact Family Law Group on 0115 945 4555 or email