How to manage the school holidays with grandchildren when their parents are divorced

Summer brings many grandparents welcome time with grandchildren but for some it also means the stress of dealing with a broken relationship too.

How to manage the school holidays with grandchildren when their parents are divorced

The school holidays are a great time to make memories with your grandchildren and provide them with a whole new set of experiences. However, this is not quite so easy when mum and dad are no longer together.

Whether you are at home for six long weeks, or working and in need of childcare, the school holidays can present a range of challenges for any parent. When those parents are no longer in a relationship the stress is increased by trying to arrange where your grandchildren will spend their time on any given day and who gets to take them to those special events and holidays.

Early planning

Schools now tend to release their holiday dates quite early, so it is important to keep your eye out for them and start planning as soon as you can. Ideally, you should try and plan the whole year’s holiday in one conversation, so that time can be divided more equally. If one partner wants to take the child away for half term, the other parent can decide how much time they have with the child in the next holiday.

Early organisation also gives you a chance to consider your work calendar and book annual leave whilst it is available. By agreeing things early on, you can both start planning and making any necessary arrangements.


When a relationship has broken down, it is not always easy to maintain good lines of communication. However tricky it may be, it is important to work with the other parent as best you can, even if it is only through email. If you can be in the same room together then this will allow for more give and take and your children can see you discussing arrangements and both having equal importance in their lives.

Whatever your feelings are towards your child’s former partner, you should still take their feelings into consideration. That old adage about treating others as you would like to be treated rings true here, so don’t deliberately create difficulties or discord throughout the holiday’s as it is likely to bite you back at some point.

The most important thing in any school holiday is the child themselves, so involving them in the arrangements can be a positive thing. By including them, both parents can be made aware of a regular activity they want to take part in or anything they do not want to miss. Whilst the child should not be given the final decision on everything, it is important to take their feelings into account. Remember to listen to them and incorporate them into the planning, but don’t use them as a pawn in any disputes with your ex-partner.

Travelling abroad

The school holidays are a great time to go abroad with your children, but make sure you discuss this with the other parent. In most cases you will need written permission to leave the country with the child if both parents are not present.

You should also check the requirements of the country you are travelling to as some require copies of birth certificates, your partner’s passport or even permission that has been certified by family law solicitors before you can enter the country. You should also check whether there are any restrictions on how long you can take your child away for.


If you find it impossible to reach a reasonable agreement with the other parent, then you should seek the advice of a family solicitor. They can help with mediation between the two of you and advise you of the options that are open to you. They may even refer it to the courts if it is still proving difficult to reach an agreement.

The end of the holiday’s presents its own stress, with new uniform to be bought, feet to be measured and books to be ordered, so try and take this into consideration when you plan where the child will be and who will be paying for it.

The holiday’s should be fun for you and your child, so try to put something in place that means you can all enjoy some special time capturing their imagination.

Whilst limited, there are laws that cover grandparents rights so if you are being denied access to your grandchildren because their parents have separated, we recommend talking to a family law professional so you understand your rights.

About the author

KJ Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law and are ranked firm in the Legal 500, the leading guide to law firms in the UK.

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 4:09 pm Relationships, Relationships and dating