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This article was published on June 15th, 2020
As a result of COVID-19, the last few months have been challenging for families, friends and businesses across the country, with lockdown playing a key role in putting a strain on relationships and making co-parenting more challenging than ever before.
Throughout this period our family law solicitors have continued to provide legal advice on family matters and remain available to assist clients both new and existing with the legal advice they need during these challenging times.
However, as the lockdown rules ease for some businesses, there are still limitations on contact between family members, but what does this mean for parents who don’t live together? Are they allowed to visit or have contact with their children?
In this blog post, our family law team discuss the rules and issues surrounding co-parenting during COVID-19.
This is a question that nearly every parent will have if they do not live with their child full-time.
At the end of March, this issue was cleared up by the Government who stated that children under the age of 18 are permitted to travel between the homes of their parents if they do not live together.
However, the guidance states that just because a child is permitted to travel between households, it does not mean that they have to.
The first priority should be the health of the child, the health of both parents, as well as the level of risk of infection if the child or anyone in either household is displaying Coronavirus symptoms.
The advice as per the Government website is as follows:
“Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact.”
Court hearings have mostly moved to remote hearings. This may result in your hearing being pushed back to accommodate the new way that the courts are currently operating.
If this is the case, the courts will inform both you or your solicitor about the change, and likewise, if your hearing will now be heard remotely, you will be notified in advance.
The latest guidance from the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice, Sir Andrew McFarlane, can be found by clicking here.
If you have shared parental responsibility and your point of contact with your child is at a Child Contact Centre, then you will not be able to attend said centres in the current climate.
Contact centres currently remain closed, however as lockdown rules ease this situation may change.
The courts are looking at ways of ensuring contact can still take place, including technological solutions such as WhatsApp, Facetime and video calling as well as exploring solutions that utilise a responsible family member who may act as a contact point.
If you are worried about seeing your child as a result of contact centres not currently operating, an expert family law solicitor will be able to offer extensive advice and provide you with the best possible solution to ensure both you and your child and those they live with remain safe.
All of the issues we have outlined above can cause a great deal of distress both for you as a co-parent and any children involved.
In these difficult times, family is more important than ever.
Whilst we have explored some of the key questions our team have been asked relating to co-parenting during the COVID-19 lockdown, they are by no means the only issues that have arisen as a result of the current pandemic.
Our team have ensured they have remained available for telephone consultations throughout lockdown and will continue to receive instructions on family matters from new clients as well as existing ones.
If you have a question about an issue relating to co-parenting or are seeking advice about any family law matter, our team of expert family law solicitors are here for you.
To arrange a free initial consultation, please call our team today on 0800 1979 345, or complete our online enquiry form by clicking here and we will get back to you at a time that is more suitable for you.