It is reported that under new government rules, headteachers will be able to fine parents who take their children out of school for holidays during term-time. The fine can then be deducted from the family's child benefit, and or doubled if not paid on time.
The issue of term-time holidays is often a cause of dispute between separated parents. It is not uncommon for parents to disagree on whether it is appropriate for a child to be taken out of school in term time in order to go on holiday with the other parent and in some cases, last minute applications to the court are required. As the summer holidays approach, whether the children go away with each parent, and if so, where and when will become an increasingly live issue for many separated families.
As has been discussed in this blog previously, in most cases, both parents must consent to a child being removed from the country, even if this is only to go on holiday. The courts can adjudicate and make Specific Issue Orders granting permission for a holiday, or Prohibited Steps Orders, stopping them. The courts usually take the view that it is a child's best interests to be able to enjoy a holiday with either parent, but will rarely consider it is appropriate for a child to be removed from school for this, unless there is a very good reason, especially in important academic years, or in the run up to tests and assessments.
If permission is not granted, the cost of the holiday can be lost and so it is always worth making sure that a holiday is lawful and unlikely to be successfully challenged, before it is booked. Anyone who is unsure whether or not they have the necessary permission to take a child of a specific holiday, be it in term-time or during holidays is well-advised to seek advice from a family solicitor, in order to avoid costly mistakes and disappointment all round.
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