During these difficult times, many parents will be worried about the impact that the Coronavirus is having on existing child arrangement orders and future hearings.
Our blog acts as guidance only and not for your specific case. The overall message is to follow Government guidance, act sensibly and contact us for further advice on 01792 468684.
The main question – can I have contact with my child?
In short, yes. The Government issued guidance on 23rd March 2020 introducing reasons for which individuals may leave their home, one of them being to provide care. Where parents live in separate homes, children under 18 can move between their homes for contact.
However, parents will have to behave sensibly and consider what is safe and make their own best judgment as a parent.
- If anyone in your household has symptoms of Coronavirus and you are therefore self isolating you should not be sending your child for contact with their other parent or receiving a child for contact from the other parent.
- If anyone in the other parents household has symptoms of Coronavirus and they are self isolating you should not be sending the child for contact with the other parent or receiving the child for contact from the other parent.
- If the child is poorly with symptoms which could be Coronavirus you should not be sending them for contact and the other parent should not be receiving them for contact.
- If direct contact cannot go ahead think about alternatives for indirect contact such as telephone and video calls.
- If normally you would travel by public transport to facilitate contact do ask for help from the other parent to avoid this or make alternative arrangements.
- If you have a court order for contact you are generally expected to adhere to it but you can agree changes if it is sensible. After all the court did not envisage this situation when the order was made.
- Do communicate with the other parent and offer what would be a good and practical solution and do talk about worries and concerns.
- Court orders can be enforced. Even if they are broken there is a defence of reasonable excuse. If you do not send your child to contact due to self isolation it is likely to be a reasonable excuse if genuine health concerns and government guidance have been acted upon.
- If you are not going to send the child for contact, explain why in writing and suggest alternatives for indirect contact.
- If you do need to go to court then understand that the court will be prioritising urgent cases and be prepared for a phone or video link hearing and make the necessary arrangements for that.
- Finally, please note that the Coronavirus is not to be used as an excuse to prevent contact with the other parent, especially where there is a court order, unless there is a genuine risk. Courts will take a dim view of this if enforcement proceedings are taken.
If you would like to speak with one of our family law specialists, regarding supporting you with advice on child contact arrangements and Coronavirus or any other family related matter please contact us on 01792 468684.