Contact between separated parents and their children

The coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe is the worst on record since the Spanish Flu of 1918. While we hope that the pandemic has now peaked, we also recognise that these are uncertain times, and everyone needs advice on how to keep their lives running as normally as possible. Thankfully, the government has been providing such advice – including that of contact between separated parents and their children. Today, we explain what it means for you and your family.

In short, contact can continue as usual in the majority of circumstances. Parents are able to transport children to and from contact between households, without breaching any guidelines given by Boris Johnson and his government. As with any illness, however, parents are expected to take a sensible approach as to whether contact can go ahead. Communication and understanding between parents is key all the time – but especially at the moment.

The guidance given states: “The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make 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.”

What a parent cannot do is use coronavirus as a reason to stop contact between their child and the other parent. Cases can be heard at court remotely, and these situations will be treated as though the parent in question were stopping contact without a valid reason. If there is a court order in place, this could be treated as a breach of that order.

If a court order does need to be varied on a temporary basis, it would be advisable to record any agreement made between the parents in writing using email, text message, or a contact book just so everyone can remember what was agreed.

Face-to-face contact is not always going to be able to go ahead due to illness, especially if either parent or household are displaying symptoms. In order to maintain the contact between the child and their parent, other methods must be considered – but do account for the child’s age in any plans you make. A baby or toddler will struggle with the concept of video calls! Platforms that can be used are (for example) Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp video call, and Zoom.

If you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us here at David Lee Solicitors. We can be contacted via telephone using 01926 852188 or emailing either david@davidleesolicitors.co.ukdiana@davidleesolicitors.co.uk or admin@davidleesolicitors.co.uk

We also offer consultations using the Skype or Zoom platforms. We are here and happy to help.

Written by Martin Large. 5th May 2020.

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