March 30

Contact with Children During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Child Access

Children of parents who are separated or share custody are able to move between houses during the Coronavirus lockdown as stipulated by the government very recently. 

The movement of children between parents does present a risk as they go from one household to another.  This could potentially be a big public health issue.

Unless the government says otherwise then the default position is to abide by the terms of your Court Order if you have one.

That being said, each parent has a responsibility to act in the best interest of their child and in the event that the other parent or a member of their household is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus or is self-isolating, there would be a good reason for denying that parent direct contact on a temporary basis.

WE CAN HELP

“Should you have any queries or require any advice in relation to access to children during the Coronavirus lockdown then please do not hesitate to contact our family department on 01277 221010 or by email satwinder@sanderswitherspoon.co.uk or opal@sanderswitherspoon.co.uk.”

Satwinder Sahota ~ Child Custody Solicitor

Some parents were left confused by the advice given by the government.  There were a limited number of reasons given as to why people are allowed to leave their homes during the Coronavirus crisis, such as travelling to and from essential jobs to exercise, to buy food or to give care to somebody who needs it. Initially however, the advice on children moving between the homes of separated parents was limited. 

The government has since updated its guidelines, stating "Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents' homes."

The Grey Areas

This still leaves a number of grey areas such as whether or not it is in the child's best interests to move from home to home during a time of social distancing. A move that could have health impacts on the child and the parents. 

Parents are also unsure as to whether they can insist on or refuse the movement of a child between two households if they feel they have good reason.

Issues can also arise where contact handovers have to be in public, for example in instances were vulnerable parents have an address that is to be kept secret. 

Can child arrangements be changed during Coronavirus lockdown?

Child arrangement orders commonly cover who your child will live with how often they will stay over with each parent and on which days and nights. 

It's really important to consider the needs of the child during these difficult times and if physical meetings are not possible, then you should consider regular phone and videos calls, not just with the parents but with members of the family. 

If you or your co-parent is experiencing symptoms, you should take the government advice to self isolate for 14 days as this is in the interests not only of you and your family, but of the general public and the NHS. During this period you may have to accept that your access to the child may be limited.

Next Steps

If you are concerned about your child's arrangements during the Coronavirus crisis, then contact our team of Family Law Solicitors now on 01277 221010 or make a free enquiry below.  

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