Does the Child Arrangements Order still apply?
The Government has stated that children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ houses. Provided no-one in the household is showing symptoms then child arrangements (whether agreed between the parties or set out in a Child Arrangements Order) should continue. Parents can travel to and from each other’s houses for the purpose of those child arrangements.
What should I do if someone is showing symptoms?
You need to act in a child’s best interests. If your child’s other parent is showing symptoms it is not likely to be in a child’s best interests to spend time with the parent showing symptoms.
If your child is showing symptoms then your child should be self-isolating and not moving between households.
Your child may have to self-isolate because they are a vulnerable person. This is a difficult situation because it could mean one parent does not see the child for weeks or months but a child’s health should come first.
If I cannot see my child can I have indirect contact with them?
If you cannot see your child due to the Coronavirus then as long as it is your child’s best interests to do so you can agree with the other parent to have indirect contact with them. This can be by telephone, Skype, Facetime etc.
What should I do if child arrangements cannot be agreed?
If you cannot reach an agreement with your child’s other parent regarding child arrangements then either one of you can make an application to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order. This is an Order stating (1) whom a child will live with and (2) whom a child will spend time with, how often, whether there should be overnight and longer stays, whether it should be supervised or supported in some way and whether it should be limited to indirect contact (e.g. post or telephone).
When the Judge is making an Order, they will consider what is in a child’s best interests.
The child’s welfare is the Court’s paramount consideration.
How do I make an application for a Child Arrangements Order?
You can make an application for a Child Arrangements Order digitally. If you are a parent or the legal representative of a parent you are strongly encouraged to use the online process to avoid delay. Details of how to apply can be found at:
What should I do if a Child Arrangements Order is not being complied with?
If you already have a Child Arrangements Order in place which is not being complied with and no reasonable explanation has been given about that then you can consider making an application to the Court to enforce that Child Arrangements Order.
Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family justice system. They have produced guidance on child arrangements during this Coronavirus pandemic which can be found here:
How are the Courts dealing with family cases?
The Courts are dealing with most cases remotely. Please click the link below to see our Legal Update setting out how the Courts are dealing with family cases:
If you would like advice on family law matters or any other issues please contact us to arrange a telephone/video appointment.
Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary. It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.
Author: Alexandra Funnell. Co-Head of Family Department, Partner