COVID-19 has had a big impact on the country and we are here to provide guidance to support families and children as the situation around COVID-19 develops. The government published guidelines on staying at home and keeping a social distance away from other individuals.
We understand that some parents who are subject to a Child Arrangements Orders have concerns about their ability to meet the order and keep their child safe. However, the government guidance has stated that where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can move freely between their parent’s houses. This establishes an exception to the mandatory message of stay at home requirement.
It is important if a court order is in place that you continue to abide by the order and have effective co-parenting (unless there is a serious risk to the child or another individual). This helps maintain your children’s routine during these times and can make them feel safe and secure with both parent’s support. It is important to work amicably with the other parent to make sure the child stays healthy and this is done by acting sensibly. It is important that quarantine is not used as a source of conflict or tension between parents.
Parental responsibility for a child rests with the child’s parents and not with the court. Therefore, it does not mean that a child must be moved between households. Both parents need to make a decision and communicate in the best interests of the child including any present health risks, any vulnerable individuals in the household and risk of infection.
It is reasonable for one parent to be genuinely worried about the movement of their child between households. If parents can reach a sensible agreement that the child will remain in one household then alternative contact arrangements should be made. A court order can be temporarily varied to make alternative arrangements for the child such as more frequent indirect contact by remote methods including but not limited to Face-Time, Skype, WhatsApp or telephone. These methods can be great ways to read stories at bedtime and remain part of the child daily routine.
It is important to communicate clearly and honestly with the other parent and do what is best for your child. This means making safe alternative arrangements for the child and working as co-parents. Perhaps the missed face to face contact for one parent can be ‘made up’ once quarantine has been lifted.
Brethertons are here to answer any questions that you may have about contact with your child during COVID-19. We are fully functioning remotely and therefore, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist solicitors on 07972621070.