Lockdown 2021 Child Arrangements - what now?
- AuthorAnna Robinson
Following yesterday's lockdown announcement by the PM, we have received numerous queries from people who are worried about the contact/care arrangements for their children. In March 2020 the Government and top Judges set out clear guidance for parents and carers as how to deal with the transition between homes as safely as possible.
Government guidance issued alongside the Stay at Home Rules on 23rd March 2020 dealt specifically with child contact arrangements. It says:
“Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. 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.
Many parents are worried about the health, financial and educational impact that Coronavirus may have upon themselves and their loved ones. Whilst it might be difficult, communication is key, and parents should try their upmost to have meaningful discussions to reach sensible and appropriate practical solutions to deal with their individual circumstances, whilst of course adhering to the legal restrictions imposed by the Government to compact the current situation.
What if my ex-partner stops me from seeing my children?
It is a sad reality that there will be instances where some parents will find themselves unable to spend time with their children, due to the decision of their ex-partner or co-parent to suspend contact and prevent a meaningful relationship. It can be an extremely upsetting situation, particularly if you do not consider that the suspension of the contact is reasonable or necessary. Our family team are on hand to assist in those circumstances.
What if I am already going through the Court process to try and sort out contact arrangements or financial matters following on from my separation?
For the time being, the Courts are trying to limit the number of hearings where people have to go to court.
This means that some court orders will be agreed and sent to the Judge to approve without the need for a court hearing.
If a court hearing is needed, this will often take place by telephone or video-call. Certain cases will require parties to attend the Court, and it may be that your case is listed at an alternative location (to ensure that the Hearing can take place safely).
If you are already going through the Court process and you are represented by a Solicitor you should speak to them about your individual case. If you do not have a Solicitor but would like to discuss future representation please get in touch either by email to Anna Robinson, or call our New Enquiries team on 0800 118 1500.