We are living in unprecedented times and the months ahead will undoubtedly be challenging for us all.
While COVID-19 continues to cause concern, many parents who are separated or divorced are faced with even bigger challenges.
The trials of family life are different for everyone, but crisis situations can crank up the pressure on those families that are merged or separated. How can these families ensure each parent gets to see the children without placing any additional risk on the children’s and other family members’ health?
While travel between separated parents is currently permitted during this period of restriction, parents should be mindful that this is not carte blanche permission for contact to go ahead regardless. The health and wellbeing of children must remain at the forefront of all decisions made.
Although at the moment, allowing children of separated parents to move between houses is one of the lock down exceptions, if anyone in the household begins to have symptoms then the current guidance of 14 days isolation will still apply and contact with a child will have to be paused. This is true even when a court order is in place.
As the number of COVID-19 cases grows, it will be increasingly important to keep childcare arrangements under review. If isolation does become necessary, separated parents should think about indirect methods of contact for example facetime, phone calls, watch parties and emails. If this does occur, looking to the future is important too. CAFCASS, the advisory service for the family courts, stress the need for separated parents to work together to ‘make up’ any missed time when things go back to normal.
To summarise, separated parents should bear the following points in mind:
- Currently, travel between separated parents is allowed
- If isolation is required due to coronavirus symptoms, then be open and frank about it with your former partner and follow government guidance
- If one family has had to isolate or there has been a restriction in contact, then think proactively about how that time could be made up
- Look at what short term contact measures could be put in place such as facetime, skype or phone calls.
Most important of all is for parents to work together such that any additional tensions due to family circumstances are minimised. This is a difficult time for us all and it is important that any additional stress is kept to a minimum, especially where children are concerned.
Although the internet can be a useful source of help for information on family law, on-line advice can also be misleading and complicated. In these unprecedented times, it is even more important to seek expert advice if you’re having any problems our doubts surrounding appropriate arrangements for your children.
Family law experts continue to provide a full service to support people through these tricky times. We are utilising all available technology so we can connect without having to meet in person.
About the author
Katy Barber is a specialist in family law at Moore Blatch. She helps people facing relationship breakdown and those going through divorce. She also and works closely with parents facing issues linked to contact with their children.
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