Coronavirus Co-parenting GuidanceHeather Arnold
In these strange and uncertain times often the first question our clients are asking after “How do I keep my family safe?” is “What happens with regards to existing contact arrangements?”.
At this stage, the Government have stepped up their plan in attempting to control the speed of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading. During the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Monday, 23rd March 2020, advice was given to the general public urging people to stay at home.
Advising that we should:
• only go outside when absolutely necessary for food, medicine, essential work or exercise;
• to stay 2 metres away from other people, and;
• to wash our hands as soon as we get home.
But what does this mean for those families whose children spend time between two parents, either as a result of agreed contact arrangements or as a result of a Court Order?
Whilst we are all learning how to adapt, Government guidance remains that children should not normally be moving between households, it is, however, recognised and accepted that this may be necessary where there are children who are under 18, and who need to move between separated parents. At this stage therefore, this travel is permitted.
All parents know that children benefit from a routine, and it is clear that that routine will now look very different to how it was just one week ago. That routine includes maintaining contact with the separated parent in the usual way, assuming of course it is safe to do so. At present, unless there are justified medical/self-isolation issues, or further guidance is released from the Government, children should maintain their usual routine of spending time with each of their parents. Cafcass state that “all child arrangement orders should be complied with unless to do so would put your child, or others at risk”. Should it not be possible for this routine to be maintained, then as always, communication is key either directly with the co-parent, or through a third party if necessary.
We understand that this is a particularly stressful time for parents, and a lot of questions remain unanswered. Rest assured, we are here to give you guidance when required, and all our dedicated Family team can be contacted as usual during these challenging times. We will also update this information where appropriate and in line with any further Government advice.