Contact arrangements for children as lockdown is eased
During lockdown you may have been able to agree, or needed to impose alternative arrangements for your children to spend time with or have alternative (i.e. virtual) contact with their other parent in order to keep everyone safe.
As lockdown is being eased, these arrangements should now be reviewed. Some parents may still be concerned that it is not yet safe to return to the pre-lockdown arrangements and clear communication with each other is vital to ensure that both parent, and just as importantly, the children know what contact can take place or why it is not considered safe at this time.
The government’s current guidance is that providing we maintain the social distancing measures, the risks of contracting Covid-19 can be managed. However, there may be circumstances where it is still not possible to return to the previous arrangements.
If you are contacted as part of the ‘track and trace’ system, you will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Contact between the children and the other parent however, can still take place so long as you are not coming into contact with that parent, for example, on handovers. Alternative arrangements could therefore be made in these circumstances.
If you are the parent who is having contact and you are told to self-isolate, you cannot have direct contact with the children for 14 days, but arrangements could be made for this to take place by video call pending completion of the isolation period and assuming, of course, that you do not then have symptoms of the coronavirus.
The government’s guidance continues to be updated regularly, particularly as we have seen where parts of the country are put back into lockdown. We are not out of the woods yet and we cannot expect life to go back to how it was for some time to come, but children still have the right to maintain a relationship with both parents and where it is safe to do so, arrangements should be made for contact to take place.
If a Child Arrangements Order has already been made but is not being adhered to, the parent with whom the children should be having contact may ask the Court to find that the Order is being breached and the Court will have to determine whether the parent with whom the children are living acted reasonably and sensibly having regard to the government’s guidance. Even if direct contact is not possible at this time, arrangements should be made for video calls at the very least so as to ensure the children are able to have some contact with that parent.
If your require assistance with child arrangements, our team of family lawyers can help. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation on 0800 2800 421 or get in touch here.