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Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part Two

Ways To Survive The Summer Holidays When You Are A Separated Family – Part Two


The first few months and years after separation require adjustments, but when couples move on, parents enter into new relationships.  This can mean that whereas one couple were involved before with the co-parenting, now step-parents and more become involved. Blended families bring their own challenges – and not forgetting the important role of grandparents, who may also need to be included.


Possible solutions:


  • Plan as early as possible. Work out a Parenting Plan as to who is to care for the children and when.


  • What is reasonable?
    • Very young children newborns rarely stay away from mums and;
    • Older children often share time between each parent.


  • Strict schedules? These often don’t work. We all need flexibility for life’s opportunities and challenges:
    • Unexpected birthday parties
    • Offer of weekend away with best friend etc
    • Illness
    • Weather


  • How to make the plan
    • Talk to each other
    • Listen, listen and listen again
    • Listen to the children’s needs – they want more say as they become older
    • Try to coordinate holidays so that they don’t overlap or children spring from one to another
    • Who will pay for holiday camps?


  • How to help the children
    1. Encourage
    2. Don’t criticise the other parent
    3. Don’t make them a go-between
    4. Try to agree on boundaries – timings bed times for younger children etc
    5. Realise that whilst you may be missing your child when they are away, that you will also have your time with them to enjoy.


So what if you can’t agree who your children are to live with, and how they will spend their time?


Sorting out parenting plans on separation is a very wise step.  And it’s never too late to create one.


NB you don’t need a court order for children. Court orders are only necessary if parents can’t agree, and should be a last resort.

How to achieve resolution?

  1. Kitchen Table discussion
  2. Negotiations between solicitors
  3. Mediation
  4. Collaborative process using Collaboratively Trained Lawyers
  5. Court (if all else fails)

My preferred approach would be the Collaborative approach. I am one of 14 Collaboratively Trained Family Lawyers in Leicestershire & Rutland.

What is the Collaborative approach?

  1. Participation agreement that states neither will issue proceedings
  2. Four-way meetings
  3. Anchor statement

What are the advantages of the Collaborative approach?

  1. Control
  2. Cost effective – it’s a long term investment
  3. No letters (or having to pay for a solicitor to send them!)
  4. You work together
  5. Your relationship may improve
  6. Creativity in finding solutions
  7. Process is flexible

What is required?

  1. The couple being open and honest and want the process to work
  2. You will see the benefits of compromise. Genuine desire to reach a settlement
  3. Put aside a partisan view
  4. Specially trained lawyers to facilitate


How would the Collaborative process help separated parents?


It can help with agreeing on finances – but when it comes to children, it can also help parents to agree on a Parenting Plan.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan can include:

  1. What parenting decisions do we need to consult on?
  2. What we don’t need to consult on?
  3. How will we behave towards each other in front of the children?
  4. How will we share information?
  5. Will we have regular meetings to discuss?
  6. How will we involve the children in decision making?
  7. When can the children call or communicate with each parent?
  8. Emergencies – what to do?
  9. How will we help children stay in contact with friends and relatives from the other side of the family?
  10. How will we introduce new partners?
  11. What boundaries do we need to agree on – eg. homework and bedtime.
  12. How to work together on big decisions.

You need to decide if you can

  1. Listen to each other
  2. Listen to your child’s needs
  3. Negotiate equally

For parents that can’t agree, then the courts will often recommend attendance on a Separated Parents Information Programme.


Having met James Belderbos for the first time I found him to be professional, knowledgeable and also very understanding to the sensitive situation with regards to my ex wife and the current situation.”
Throughout the whole process James Belderbos always gave sound advice and was always very approachable handling my calls personally which meant a great deal to me.
I would without doubt recommend James Belderbos to anyone requiring a Family Law Professional.”  Mr D, Leicestershire

BBC Radio Leicester Interview with Collaborative Practitioner and Family Lawyer James Belderbos



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Oakham: 01572  490 660

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