Seeing your Children during Lockdown
ASHLEIGH SPENCER >
Head of FamilyWed 3 June 2020
If you do not live with your children and are experiencing problems having contact with them during lockdown, there are options available to you to resolve these matters.
On 23rd March the Government issued guidance to confirm that children can be moved between the homes of their parents.
It is important that children’s routines are maintained during these times. Discussions on the safest ways for children to maintain their relationships with both parents should be had to agree a solution that is in the best interests of the children.
This guidance makes it clear that parents will be expected to act sensibly and safely when making decisions for the arrangements of their children.
If you have a Child Arrangements Order in place and you agree with the other parent to temporarily vary these arrangements, this is completely fine. It would be sensible to make a record of these arrangements in a text message, email or written note.
What if no variations are agreed?
Where parents cannot agree to vary the Child Arrangements Order, and one parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the Child Arrangements Order would be against current Government advice, they can exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangements to those they consider to be safe for their children.
If this matter later comes before the Court, the Court is likely to consider whether the parent acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the Government guidance. Any specific evidence they may have regarding the child or family will also be considered.
If, as a result of arrangements being varied, children do not spend the time as set out in the Child Arrangements Order with their parents, then the court will expect alternative arrangements to be made. This will be to establish regular contact between the children and parent by video calls or telephone.
The important message from the Court is that the spirit of the Order should be maintained by making safe arrangements for the children if they are required.
If your children or someone in their household had COVID-19 or is displaying symptoms, then they must follow Government guidance by self isolating and not moving between households.
What if I see my child in a contact center?
If you usually have contact with your children in a contact centre, whilst they are currently closed, they are considering medical advice to see when they can re-open safely.
Courts are looking to see if there are family members who can supervise contact whilst contact centres are not open. Alternative methods which use indirect contact such as video calling is recommended in the meantime.
If you are unable to resolve these issues with the other parent and you do not agree on arrangements, then we can help.
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