The Government have put out Covid-19 advice for separated parents and how to cope with child arrangements. This is an extra challenging time for separated families and we have put together some information that might ease some of the additional anxiety. The main consideration is to act sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for the child and deciding where and with whom the child spends time.
- Self-isolation – if one of the parents is in the ‘vulnerable’ categories or is self-isolating due to Covid-19, and face-to-face is not possible and a child does not get to spend time with the other parent as set down in their original agreement, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to be made to establish and maintain regular contact between the child and the other parent, such as by phone, or perhaps by video platforms. Many of this software is available to download for free to a phone, tablet or computer, as long as it is for personal use. It is important to maintain the agreed contact as much as possible, even if that means using an alternative method. The parents should decide the best option after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
- Work together – It is important to be as amicable as possible during this time. We realise that Covid-19 is especially challenging for separated parents and that feelings of frustration can escalate. It is important to remember that your child will also feel confused and possibly scared, and may also be upset if they are unable to visit their other parent due to self-isolation. You need to work together to determine the best solution for your child at this time and bear in mind that even if one parent thinks it is safe for contact to take place, it might be entirely reasonable for the other parent to be genuinely worried about this. Where parents, acting in agreement, exercise their parental responsibility to conclude that the arrangements set out in their original agreement should be temporarily varied, then they are free to do so. It would be sensible for each parent to record such an agreement in a note, email or text message sent to each other.
- Court Cases – most courts are now dealing with family cases via video or conference calls, and so in the majority of instances, court cases are still going ahead. It is important that you still ‘attend’ (via the method determined by the court) if your case is due to be held during this period. Bear in mind that this timeframe may be extended further.
The Government’s Covid-19 advice for separated parents does allow children to move between parents’ homes as long as it is safe to do so, and it is important that you are as consistent as possible and in line with the current routine as long as health is not put at risk. You can find out more on the Government’s Covid-19 advice for separated parents here. There is also general advice on the Government’s website and as advice is changing regularly, so please continue to check here. Remember, communication and consistency are key to minimising the impact on your child.
If you are unable to come to an amicable arrangement or have concerns about a court case or need more information at this difficult time, please contact us on here.