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Jail Sentence for Taking Children Out of School for a Holiday?

A couple are facing a jail sentence after not paying a fine for taking their children out of school during term time for a holiday. 

Parents may have seen the report in the Metro today about a couple who are facing a jail sentence after failing to pay a fine for taking their children out of school during term time for a holiday.

The issue of removing a child from school for a holiday or family event is one which often causes disputes between separated parents. In the absence of an agreement or resolution the Court can sometimes be called on to adjudicate on these issues and determine whether a certain event is of particular importance to the child. 

Usually any absence from school for a purpose other than illness needs to be sanctioned in advance by the school, failing which the absence is deemed unauthorised. Under new rules brought in at the start of September 2013, parents can be fined for these absences, with the amount payable increasing swiftly if payment is not made within the specified time. If payment remains outstanding, a term of imprisonment can be ordered.

The new rules make it difficult for schools to grant permission for term-time holidays, other than in exceptional circumstances. This means that the penalties will often apply if the child then misses school.

Parents therefore need to be aware of the new provisions and ensure that they get the necessary permission before any planned absence takes place. Separated parents involved in a dispute about whether or not a child should miss school should take note of the provisions and see if they can be used to resolve the disagreement before having to go to Court.

Taking a child on holiday without the relevant consent can have serious consequences in civil law, family law and criminal law. Any parent considering a holiday but is unclear on their legal rights to do so is always advised to seek legal advice before booking a holiday, in order to avoid disappointment. and wasted money if a trip cannot proceed.

By Family Lawyer Cara Nuttall

For a free consultation about a family law or children law issue, call the Family Law Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online