During the Pandemic, some separated parents have been understandably concerned about their ability to comply with the terms of Coronavirus and Child Arrangement Orders.
This short blog is intended to provide general advice regarding this issue. However each family’s circumstances differ. Therefore you should seek advice from a Family Lawyer regarding your position.
Points to note
- The President of the Family Division has issued advice. Confirming that ‘Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parent’s homes’. This is an exception to the mandatory stay at home rules.
- Therefore, the usual arrangements for your child(ren) can continue. It is important to try to ensure your child(ren) maintain their routine. Spending time with both parents during this unprecedented time, provided it is safe for this to be achieved. This will help your child maintain consistency, during this unsettling time.
- However, the guidance does not confirm that the children must be moved between homes.
- The decision whether a child should move between homes is for you and the child(ren)’s other parent. You will need to consider the child’s health and risk of infection. Plus any recognised vulnerable individuals in either parent’s household.
- Where you have concerns regarding the arrangements, you should try to amicably discuss them with the other parent. To agree a solution between you. If a change to the arrangements is agreed, it is sensible to record the agreement in an email or text message.
- However, if it is not felt to be appropriate for children to be moved between homes, the Court will expect you to agree alternative arrangements. To ensure your child(ren) can spend some with the other parent. For example, you could arrange regular Facetime, Skype, Zoom or telephone calls to allow the other parent to read bedtime stories to the child(ren) or watch a film together.
- If you have a genuine concern that complying with the Order and allowing your child(ren) to continue going between homes, would not be safe or in their best interests, you can exercise your Parental Responsibility and vary the existing arrangements. However, you should think carefully before unilaterally varying the arrangements. This is because there is a risk the other parent will apply back to the Court stating you have not complied with the terms of the Child Arrangement Order.
- If your actions are laterally reviewed by the Court, they will consider if you acted reasonably and sensibly in the circumstances. You should have evidence in support of your reason for varying the arrangements. To ensure you have offered practical alternative solutions for the child(ren) to have contact with the other parent.
The key message that has been confirmed by the Family Court is that ‘where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a Court Order to be varied, the spirit of the Order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child’.
Get in touch
In view of the fact all of your circumstances are different, it is always important to seek advice from an experienced family law specialist to discuss your circumstances and consider the different options available to you.
If you wish to speak to any of the family law team about the subject of Coronavirus and Child Arrangement Orders , or anything related to this, then please get in touch. Either call on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment or please fill in the form below and someone will get in touch.
Whilst we navigate through these unprecedented times, Hart Reade Solicitors is still very much open for business. Therefore, if you have any questions or concerns regarding the arrangements for your children, please contact us to make an appointment with one of our family law team.
All of our family law solicitors are members of Resolution, which means we are committed to resolving matters by agreement and in a non-confrontational manner. We can provide you with a wealth of information, advice and support to assist you during what can be a difficult time.
Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. You should always speak to a legal professional to discuss your circumstances and consider your options.