To get settled status, I need to be in the UK for at least 6 months every year. Do the 6 months need to be in a row or can they be spread out throughout the year?

To get settled status, you need to be residing in the UK for at least 6 months in any 12 month period for a total of 5 years. It does not matter if you take multiple trips outside of the UK as long as this does not exceed 6 months in total over a 12 month period. 

For example, if you take a two week holiday at the beginning of the year and then another two week holiday in the autumn, your time outside the UK does not combine to exceed 6 months and so you have not broken your continuous qualifying residence

However, if you are away for e.g. 4 months August-November one year and 3 months March-May of the next year, you WILL have broken your continuity of residence, as absences in ANY 12 month period are looked at, not just separate calendar years. 

We have developed an absence calculator which you can use to check (it downloads an Excel file):

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