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How will Coronavirus affect my child arrangements?
Over the last week or so, the Family Team at WSP have received several enquiries in relation to how the current coronavirus situation impacts upon separated parents and their child arrangements.
Child Arrangements Orders
Some people have Child Arrangements Orders in place, clearly defining who the children live with and when they spend time with the other parent during term-time, in the school holidays and on special occasions.
No one could have predicted the current Covid-19 pandemic when making such an Order and the uncertainty caused by the ever-changing position means that separated parents will need to be flexible in order to co-parent effectively.
What is the Government saying?
Given the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23rd March 2020 imposing stricter measures on us all, separated parents have been seeking further clarification as to what this means for their children.
Michael Gove MP appeared on two television interviews on the morning of 24th March 2020 where this issue was raised. At first, the guidance was that children under the age of 18 could not move between households and that they should remain in the home that they are currently in. It has since been confirmed that whilst movement must be limited and kept to a minimum, children can stay with both parents. This advice could of course change again in the near future.
Update 27/3/2020 – It is important to note that this is an exception to the mandatory stay at home requirement and it does not however mean that children MUST move be moved between homes. Separated parents will need to assess all the circumstances and reach a sensible decision based on Government advice.
What if my child has symptoms of coronavirus?
Parents will need to bear in mind that children may also need to self-isolate if they are symptomatic or another member of their household is. This is likely to mean that there will be an extended period of time where the children have no direct contact with the other parent.
To view the symptoms and NHS guidelines for what to do please visit their website.
The Court always considers what is in the children’s best interests when dealing with child arrangements and supports children having contact with both parents so long as it is safe. Parents who are unable to spend time with their children during the pandemic should be looking to put in place indirect contact methods such as video calls, telephone calls and messaging (if suitable for the child’s age) in order to keep in regular contact with their children.
If you are struggling to reach an agreement about the current and/or long-term arrangements for your children then please get in touch with Kristie on 01452 429867 or via our website contact pages.
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