On the 23rd March, the government undertook the serious and unprecedented measure of placing the United Kingdom into partial lockdown.
This has naturally caused worry and confusion for co-parents across the country, with many wondering whether they can continue to spend time with their children throughout the coming months.
Should Children be Moved Between Separated Parents Homes?
There is some positive and reassuring news for non-resident parents. The current government guidelines make clear that children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parent’s homes, if they no longer live in the same household. So, if your child/children do not live with you, you can still see them.
However, there is no guidance to suggest that any movement ‘must’ take place. There is simply an expectation that parents will consider what is best for their child/children in the current circumstances.
What should I consider about moving our children between their Separated Parents Homes?
Factors that parents should consider include whether there are any vulnerable parties living at either address, and whether they or the child/children are showing any symptoms of the virus. If either the parent or their child/children are symptomatic, the government guidance on self-isolation should be followed. Parents must also remember that government guidelines concerning social distancing should be followed when moving the child/children between homes.
What if I have a court Order for Contact but can't send the child to the other parents' home?
For those who have a court order in place, current contact arrangements should take place wherever possible, providing that it is safe to do so. This applies to any school holiday arrangements that are already in place.
If either party does choose to suspend contact, the court may be asked, at some point in the future, to decide whether or not it was reasonable for them to do so.
What other arrangements can we put into place if our children can't go between homes?
Where the parties agree face-to-face contact is not in the child/children’s best interests, they can agree to utilise facetime, zoom, skype or some other platform for telephone contact. The agreement reached should ideally be put into writing.
In such uncertain and scary times, co-parents should work together wherever possible to re-assure their child and to put their thoughts and feelings at the front of all their thinking. CAFCASS has released some helpful guidance for parents.
If parents can’t agree on contact arrangements or require advice on how they can vary the current arrangements, we here at Nowell Meller remain digitally open, and happy to assist.
At Nowell Meller we offer free initial appointments to family clients, where our specialist team can talk through the issues with you and help you to make the right decision. Contact us now to discuss the options available to you on either 01785 252377 or 01782 813315 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.