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Child Arrangements during COVID19

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During this time of uncertainty, many questions are being raised about all aspects of our day to day life.

Following the announcement of the Prime Minister on Monday 23rd March 2020, the country is effectively in “lock down” and we are only allowed to leave our homes for the following reasons:

  1. Shopping for basic necessities
  2. One form of exercise a day
  3. Any medical need/care for a vulnerable person
  4. Travelling to and from work,  but only if absolutely necessary

These tighter restrictions raise many questions for those parents who are separated and have shared care of their children. When Michael Gove appeared on GMB this week, he stated that children will not be able to move from one household to another during the coronavirus crisis, however then went on to give the opposite advice on BBC Radio 4, which  sparked much confusion. He has since apologised and confirmed that children are in fact allowed to move between parents.

It has now been clarified by the Government that where parents who do not live in the same household, children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ home  under the new ‘stay at home guidance’.

The President of the Family division has this week released Guidance about the approach to be taken where an existing child arrangements order may be in place. Parents are encouraged to act sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their children and  stated that in light of the above advice given by the government, children are allowed to move between homes, however this does not mean that children MUST  be moved between homes.  He said It is the responsibility of the parents( and not the courts)  to decide whether the children should move between homes and they  should make a sensible assessment of the circumstances when making this decision.

Parents are encouraged to communicate their worries and concerns with each other as most parents are anxious about the effect that this may have on the safety and wellbeing of their children. And both parents can agree to vary a court order, this should be documented in writing. If it is decided that the terms of the order are to be varied, regular contact should be maintained with the other parent, remotely such as Face-Time, Skype or other video communication.

If you have any questions or are unsure of how the Guidance might apply to your situation, please contact a member of our Family Team.