Simon Immins, Associate in our family law team, wrote in March about contact and shared living with Orders in coronavirus.
Since then, there have been many changes to lock down restrictions. In this update, he answers a few questions that we've been receiving as a result of these changes.
Update on seeing children during Lock down
In England local COVID alert levels of Medium, High or Very High have been in place from 14 October. So, the question with many parents with court orders or contact agreements is how this impacts on what they have been doing recently.
Can I see my child if they are living in an area in lockdown?
In essence the advice is still the same. There is still an exception to the restrictions in all alert levels “for the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents” [A child in this definition is a person under the age of 18]
Access and children who are self-Isolating (England)
If an adult is notified (other than via the NHS Covi-19 smartphone app) that their child has had close contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus, the adult must “secure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the child self-isolates” for 14 days.
Visiting a parent whom a child does not usually live with is not listed as a reason why a person self-isolating may leave the house.
Seeing children who are in quarantine after holiday
Can a child of divorced parents travel between parents' homes if self-isolating after returning from holiday abroad?
Guidance on How to self-isolate when travelling to the UK was issued by the government in July. It states that there may be exceptional circumstances which may permit you you leave your place of self-isolation.
Included in the list of 'exceptional circumstances' is the following point:
"where a legal obligation requires you to change address, such as where you are a child whose parents live separately, and you need to move between homes as part of a shared custody agreement".
So, if you have shared living arrangements with the other parent, you may legally continue that arrangement if your child is self-isolating. You can see the up to date list of countries, territories and regions from where you can travel to England and may not have to self-isolate on the government's website.
Children of divorced or separated parents and COVID
The Government has produced a briefing paper 15 October in anticipation of the changes in The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020.
The briefing paper is very helpful providing guidance to parents and others and the link to this is below:
Child arrangements and lock down: An experienced solicitor's view
The advice remains as before, 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 or video call in most instances.