Considerations for Child Arrangements Ahead Of The Holidays

Jan 13, 2023

The holidays are fast approaching and for many, holiday plans have already been organized and tickets purchased to travel outside of Hong Kong.  Hong Kong quarantine restrictions have loosened to the point that many individuals have taken this opportunity to fly out of Hong Kong after almost 3 years of heavy travel restrictions and hotel quarantine.

In addition to booking tickets and accommodation for the upcoming holidays, it is important that you also consider children’s arrangements if you are involved in a divorce and have to share custody/visitation of the children.

In preparation for the upcoming holiday season, here are some things to consider and discuss with your solicitor before you take the flight out of Hong Kong:

  1. Clarify and Confirm Children’s Arrangements Ahead Of The Holidays: To avoid conflict with your spouse over the holidays, make sure that you are aware of the dates you are entitled to have the children during the holidays.  Respect that your spouse is also entitled to have time with the children and ensure that any holiday bookings are within the timeframes allocated to you and does not encroach upon your spouse’s time with the children.  To avoid conflict, it is a good idea to revisit your holiday custody plan and ensure that you and your spouse have discussed the holiday plans so that you are both on the same page and have both booked your holidays that respect each other’s time with your children. If there is conflict over timeshare during the holidays, it is best to resolve it before you fly out of Hong Kong rather than having to deal with a custody/visitation dispute whilst traveling and having it ruin you and more importantly your children’s holiday plans.
  2. Provide Emergency Contact Details: Ahead of any holiday, it is imperative that you keep your spouse up-to-date on the children’s holiday plans.  This includes providing emergency contact information and also a detailed itinerary of the children’s whereabouts during their travel, namely flight and other travel details.  Your spouse is entitled to this information because as a parent he/she should always have access to the children and should be made aware of where the children will be staying and with whom.  It is important that you do not make it difficult for your spouse by refusing to provide such important information about the children and their well-being during their travels. With that being said, it is important that when you are on holidays with the children, you allow the children to maintain contact with the other parent.  Being on holidays is not a free pass for you not to stick with a “virtual” visitation schedule and you should do everything you can to facilitate communication between the children and the other parent even on holidays.
  3. Ensure You Have Important Documents On Hand Before Travel: Before you travel with the children, it is important that you have all the necessary travel documentation to make your journey seamless.  This includes up-to-date vaccination records especially with the ongoing Covid-19 virus and the related changing rules amongst various countries.  You also might want to also take the time to speak directly with your solicitor as to whether you will need a Deed of Parenting ahead of travel.  For example, if you and your children have a different last name and the parent with the same last name as the children is not traveling with you, immigration officials at various checkpoints might ask tough questions to ensure that the children are in fact your children.  A Deed of Parenting will assist in avoiding such questions at border control and can easily be drafted by your solicitor prior to you leaving Hong Kong with the children.

If you have any concerns about taking the children on holiday and have concerns about potential issues with your spouse whilst on holiday, it is best to speak with your solicitor and iron out the details and any conflict before you leave Hong Kong.  It will be more difficult to iron out details about the holidays when you’re already on holidays with the children.  It is more trouble to have to deal with conflict with your spouse and having to communicate back and forth with your solicitors in Hong Kong when you should be having fun with the children and enjoying your time away from home.

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