On the 23rd March 2020 the Prime Minister determined that the United Kingdom must go into ‘lockdown’. Since then our Family Law Team have received many enquiries as to how that impacts on families where children share their time between parents and households.
Initially there appeared to be confusion with Michael Gove, Cabinet Minister, announcing on television that children would be prevented from moving between households. The Government and senior Family Court Judges have now clarified the position as follows:
- Children are allowed to move between households where they already divide their time between two parents, whether this is under a Court Order or by agreement;
- If there is a Court Order in place setting out living arrangements for a child, then parents should work to adhere to the terms of that order as closely as possible, unless following the order would place the child or others at risk;
- Parents should assess their own situation before deciding whether to continue to share care between households, taking into account:-
- the child’s own health,
- the risk of infection; and
- the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or other.
If there is a genuine reason to vary arrangements then parents should make sure they notify the other parent promptly. Use the telephone, FaceTime, Skype, etc, to ensure some form of contact continues while direct contact is not possible. Agree to make up for any ‘lost’ time at a later date.
Keeping lines of communication open is vital. Wherever possible, parents should try to reach a sensible outcome, bearing in mind that children may already be anxious about what is happening, and disagreements will only add to their distress.
We appreciate that communication and agreement is not always possible. If problems persist our dedicated Family Law specialists are here to help. Contact one of our 12 branches to speak to a local member of our team. You can find our contact details on our website here: https://bit.ly/contactRKL