Supporting parents in the coronavirus outbreak

18 Mar 2020

These are tricky times for those who are co-parenting, whether that is navigating the way through a Child Arrangements Order or a voluntary arrangement, following the ever changing guidance we are receiving due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Parents need to think practically and sensibly about how the next few weeks, or even months, will be handled.

So, what should be considered?

  • A Child Arrangements Order (a court ordered arrangement for the children) can be varied by consent between the parties. Thought will need to be given to whether parents or children need to be self-isolating and if this will impact arrangements.
  • If one parent is breaching a Child Arrangements Order, it can be enforced through the Court. However, a measured and reasonable approach needs to be considered here. In a time when even the Court is taking steps to minimise face to face contact (by encouraging hearings to be vacated or held over telephone/Skype), due to government guidance, thought should be given as to whether such application is strictly necessary. Instead proactive steps should be encouraged – such as making proposals for alternative contact over Skype or FaceTime, or making arrangements for additional time together in the future.
  • Be mindful of what would happen if your children’s schools were to close or you need to self-isolate – who would be responsible for caring for the children during the day when they would usually be in school, for example? Now is the time to put a contingency plan in place.
  • Keep lines of communication open. Preparation and planning are key in these uncertain times, and so it is very important to share any updates you have in terms of your working arrangements, any symptoms of illness, and so forth. In current times there are many methods of doing so – whether this is through text or email, or more modern approaches such as using the “Our Family Wizard” or “2houses” apps on your mobile phone.
  • Be considerate of your respective financial circumstances. The impact of the current outbreak is already predicted to have a huge impact on our economy. Jobs may be lost, and as a result families will have to survive on less income. This in turn will impact child maintenance payments, and whilst this can be a difficult discussion to have, communication and openness are key in times like these to avoid conflict and help plan for day to day expenses.

Here at Trethowans our experts can help provide advice as to your individual circumstances. During these difficult times appointments can be held over the telephone, or by Skype.

Please get in touch with our team of family solicitors on 0800 2800 421 if you require advice.

Author

Laura Bell

Associate