Separated parents: The headache of vacation planning
It is not always easy to agree with the other parent on how to divide the school vacations for the children.
Two situations can be distinguished:
- If you do not have a court order setting out the children’s residence arrangements, it is strongly recommended that you put the agreement reached with the other parent in writing. To be legally effective, this written agreement will take the form of a parental agreement approved by the Family Court Judge. The use of a lawyer is strongly recommended;
- If you already have a court order setting out the children’s residence arrangements, the principle is usually the same: the parents are free to define between themselves the organizational arrangements for the children’s residence, which may differ from those set out by the judge. The distribution of vacations provided for by the Judge only applies in case of disagreement between the parents. In this case, it is advisable to scrupulously apply the judicial arrangements (by half/by quarter).
1) I don’t have a court order and I don’t agree with the other parent on the vacation schedule they submit to me, what can I do?
- In case of disagreement, you can refer the matter to the Family Court so that it can define the arrangements itself, taking into account the interests of the child (alternating residence or habitual residence with one of the parents and visiting and custody rights for the other parent).
In practice, you are advised to anticipate as much as possible this situation of disagreement by bringing the matter before the Judge quickly since the procedural deadlines are relatively long.
A court decision will be rendered at the end of this procedure. It will determine the periods of residence of the children with each of the two parents. As a last resort, this decision will settle your disagreement and determine the children’s residence arrangements. As a general rule, vacations are divided by half or by two weeks for short and long school vacations, alternating between even and odd years.
- If you are able to agree on the children’s residence arrangements, it is possible to draw up, in consultation with a lawyer, a parenting agreement that will govern the children’s residence arrangements during school vacations but also throughout the year. Through your lawyer, this agreement will then be approved by the Family Court to make it enforceable.
2) I have a judgment, can I refuse to give the children to the other parent if I have already booked my vacations ?
If you are able to communicate with the other parent, you are advised to verify with them that you agree on the dates and times of the beginning and end of the residence periods during the vacations. Remember that if you can deviate from the judgment in the event of an agreement with your spouse, the distribution of vacations as set out in the judgment will apply again if there is disagreement.
In the absence of an agreement, and should you fail to comply with the arrangements determined by the Judge, the other parent will be entitled to file a complaint for non-representation of the child against the other parent. It is the act of refusing to hand over the child to the parent who is entitled to claim the child by virtue of a court decision. This offence is punishable by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 15,000 euros.
Can I refuse to receive my children during my period of residence?
It is not an offence not to exercise your right to visit and accommodate your children. However, when faced with this situation, dialogue is still the best solution to try to modify the terms initially agreed upon with the other parent or by court order to take into account your imperatives (professional obligations, force majeure, etc.).
In case of disagreement between the two of you, it will be necessary to refer the matter to the Family Court. In practice, the parent whose child’s habitual residence is fixed at their home by a court decision may ask the judge to require the other parent to respect a notice period in the future (in order to anticipate a new refusal by the parent with access and accommodation rights to exercise their right punctually) as well as the assumption of childcare costs incurred during this period.
What dates should I consider when defining vacation periods?
Usually, court decisions indicate that the official dates of school vacations of the academy in which the child has their habitual residence should be taken into consideration.
It is also considered that any school vacation period begins on the day school is let out and ends on the day school resumes.
Whether it is a question of defining the terms of your child’s residence amicably or judicially, do not hesitate to consult one of our family law attorneys so that they can accompany you in your efforts. Similarly, if you already have a court decision, our lawyers will be able to advise you on how to interpret and apply the terms set by the judge. They will also guide you on the procedure to follow and the opportunity to go back to the Judge to ask for the modification of these measures. Do not hesitate to make an appointment in our office or by videoconference directly online at www.agn-avocats.com.
AGN AVOCATS – Family Affairs Department
09 72 34 24 72