March 25, 2020

Separated parents: seeing your children during the coronavirus outbreak

Specialist Family Law solicitor, Alison Cantor, discusses the issues co-parenting families are facing during the Coronavirus outbreak.

No one wants to miss seeing their children but during these unusual times, parents will need to be flexible and cooperative.

If there is a Court order in place, the Government has issued guidance on compliance with Child Arrangements Orders in these times. See the attached link for details.

Briefly, the guidance states that parents must act sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding child arrangements and must abide by Government rules on staying at home. Children whose parents do not live in the same household can be moved between their parents’ homes.

The guidelines are appropriate even where there is no order in place and parents are agreeing arrangements between themselves.

It is vital that children remain in contact with both parents for their emotional wellbeing. Consider what would suit your children, you and your wider family best, to keep everyone safe.

If changes need to be made, then consider the following:

  • If parents feel direct contact is safe, agree in advance where the child is to be taken to ensure social distancing and hygiene guidelines are followed.
  • Other options are to use telephone, Skype, WhatsApp video calls, Facetime, Zoom etc to speak to each other. Agree set times for this to happen to avoid problems.
  • Send written messages and photos via social media, text and email. These should be kept appropriate to the age of the child. Do not use the opportunity to denigrate the other parent.
  • Such indirect contact should probably be more frequent than in normal circumstances, to make up for lost face-toface contact.
  • If you cannot agree arrangements, then, in principle, an application can still be made to Court. The Court will currently only deal with hearings remotely so the procedure is going to be more difficult for some and unfortunately we expect the application may be delayed. An application should be a last resort.

The best thing parents can do is communicate with each other to ensure their children maintain contact with both of their parents during this difficult time.

Get expert guidance:

If you have any queries about how this affects you or your family, the specialist team of Family Law solicitors at Holmes and Hills can assist you and offer an initial fixed fee appointment over the telephone or by Facetime/Skype or other such medium, to give you the guidance you need. Contact a specialist by calling 01376 320456 (Essex) or 01787 275275 (Suffolk).

Holmes & Hills Solicitors has offices in Braintree, Sudbury, Halstead, Coggeshall and Tiptree and is opening a new regional head office, the A12 Commercial Hub, in summer 2020. During the Coronavirus outbreak, advice and services are being provided without the need for clients to attend an office.

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