Guidance for separated parents on children moving between parents' homes
Increased social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus have undoubtedly been putting strain on families with shared childcare arrangements.
Taking children from one home to another is a legitimate journey according to Cafcass and Government guidelines.
The most important consideration is what is in the best interests of the children. This has always been at the forefront of our law concerning the arrangements for children. These are unprecedented times. The best interests of the children remain paramount, and this must also be considered along with the health and wellbeing of not just the children but also the wider families.
We have had enquiries from anxious parents who are worried about breaking court orders and others who are concerned that the government’s advice to distance socially are being used to flout arrangements, either agreed or ordered by the court.
Should I allow my ex to see our children?
Yes, unless the child or parent is considered vulnerable. If either child or parent has shown any symptoms, they should follow the Government’s self-isolation instructions.
Do I still need to comply with my Child Arrangements Order?
Yes, the law is still the law. All orders should be adhered to as far as possible but other provisions may have to be made during this time such as video call contact.
Try to maintain the pattern within the court order or agreement, provided you can do so safely within the Government’s coronavirus instructions and guidance.
The courts are encouraging the public and lawyers to discuss and agree the approach that should be taken. The court service is under extreme pressure.
It will help the children if there is a consistent approach by both parents in each of their homes in respect of coronavirus hygiene, so both you and your children feel reassured that the same rules apply.
In these exceptional times it is crucial to focus on what is in the best interests of the children. However, other considerations will apply to aspects of the arrangements, such as where the handover of the children should take place, where there are concerns about domestic abuse, for example.
If you are not sure what to do, then we are still open for business and able to give you advice.
The latest guidance on the enforcement of Contact orders is available at https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-crisis-guidance-on-compliance-with-family-court-child-arrangement-orders/
Other services, such as mediation are moving towards remote working and video conferencing, so do not feel that you are alone and cannot access any support or help during this difficult time.