Contact and shared living with Orders in the current Coronavirus Covid-19 situation

Many of my clients have Court Orders relating to contact and living arrangements between themselves and their former parents.

Children of separated parents in coronavirus lockdown​

There is bound to be some confusion as to what is happening and whether or not the current guidelines have taken the needs of children with separated parents to maintain contact or continue with any shared living arrangements with them being taken between their parents.

Contact and living arrangements

It is the right of the children involved for them to have the best possible relationship with their parents and extended families on both sides of the parental divide. Contact and living arrangements are obviously vitally important for the children themselves, for their sense of selves, their security and their attachment to their families.

The latest government guidelines have taken this into account

Government guidance for divorced parents during COVID-19 lockdown

The appropriate part is in Section 1 STAYING AT HOME. There are four exceptions to this

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

The appropriate exception is:

"Any medical need and there is a note attached to this which clearly states -Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes."

Michael Gove with mixed messages: clarification

In a television interview this morning (24th March), Michael Gove initially contradicted government guidelines before clarifying on social media.

In an interview with Good Morning Britain, he initially said that children of separated parents would need to remain in the home they were currently living in.

This is not the case and shortly after his appearance, he took to Twitter to say his message ‘wasn’t clear enough’ and that in fact, children under 18 can move between separated parents.

Changing guidance during the coronavirus outbreak

The situation is developing quickly and new announcements are being made daily. The fact that Michael Gove, a senior minister, was unsure of what the new measures meant for separated parents highlights the uncertainty faced by everyone.

Consult official guidance, try to stay up to date, seek advice where necessary, and be understanding.

Advice for separated parents during lockdown

I am sure there will be many parents wondering how to deal with the unique situation but I would urge all in this situation to remember the Children’s needs which were paramount in the decision making process when parents were either agreeing or being made the subject of  court orders.

Obviously, there may be situations that make the current arrangements impossible. Households with vulnerable people and those who are separated a long distance apart. I urge parents to try to work co-operatively and imaginatively. Greater use of Skype (or similar) telephone calls will all become vitally important to young children who may not understand why their routines have had change and they can’t see Mummy or Daddy as they have been.

This is not a time to point score or take advantage of the situation, The current situation will change and it is vital that children get through this as unscathed as possible. 

Legal advice on contact and living arrangements

If you need legal advice relating to contact and living arrangements (whether or not specifically related to Coronavirus), please contact our Family Team on 01202 499255 or 01425 610100 or fill in the form on this page. We offer a free initial meeting for all new clients, which will, during these times, take place over the phone.

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