Can children visit separated parents during COVID-19?
Many of our clients have been in touch to ask whether children can visit separated parents during COVID-19? Or whether they will be in breach of their Child Arrangements Order if they can’t visit their child. Find what you can do if you do need to change your Court Order (spoiler: it’s not automatically a breach).
For families with Child Arrangements Order, we recognise lockdown has presented many challenges. With thanks to The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for the official guidance from the Courts, we’ve shared a short guide on what you can do. (including some helpful links at the bottom of the article).
Please note, this guide is intended to offer general advice. Every situation will be different. If you have any questions, SKB Law offers free 30 minute legal advice calls. Book yours today by calling 01274 727373 or emailing [email protected].
If you want to change your child contact (Child Arrangements Order) consider the following guidance (download your free guide):
- The Rules. The Government’s Stay At Home Rules mean that you should only leave the house for food, exercise, health reasons or work.
- The Exception. Children of parents who are separated are able to move between households during the coronavirus restrictions. Official guidance states: “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
- The Decision to move your child between houses should be agreed by both parents. We know Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused many people to worry about their health and the health of their loved ones. If you’re not sure whether your child should see the other parent, speak to each other.
- The Assessment. Ask whether it’s safe for your child to move between homes? Be kind to each other. You may wish to assess the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
- The Changes. If you both agree to change the Child Arrangements Order – agree the changes with each other in writing (text or email). You can also notify your solicitor. You can also decide to change the Order by yourself – for example if you’re worried that contact with the other parent is a risk to your child or against Government Guidelines. If this is later raised in Family Court, the Court will consider whether the parent who changed the order “acted reasonably.”
- The Alternative. Remember – if your child is unable to see the other parent, the Court will expect you to consider alternative arrangements – such as phone or video calls e.g. Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime.
You may also find the following websites of assistance:
- https://www.naccc.org.uk – for information on supported contact centres
- https://www.nfm.org.uk/new-service-co-parenting-through-the-coronavirus-crisis/ – a new service from National Family Mediation
- www.relate.org.uk – advice and tips for keeping relationships healthy during self-isolation and social distancing
SKB Law are a team of family law specialists. We offer free 30 minute advice calls to people across England & Wales. Call our office on 01274 727373 or via WhatsApp Business on 01274 732482.