Arrangements for Children during COVID-19 Lockdown

Arrangements for Children during lockdown – parents warned by Head of Family Courts not to exploit lockdown

For many separated families, child arrangements will be an issue raising many questions and concerns during the COVID 19 lockdown period with parents questioning the appropriate course of action.

We recently discussed the Government’s regulations regarding contact with children, which outlines that children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents homes after a sensible discussion and an assessment that the children are not being put at risk.

Whilst regulations have been outlined, the Head of the Family Courts, Sir Andrew McFarlane has also expanded on this, advising that during the COVID19 lockdown, children should continue to visit parents they do not live with, as long as both households are healthy.

As the most senior family Judge in England & Wales, Sir Andrew gave an interview to the BBC on 21st April 2020 stating that those who ignore child arrangements orders and use lockdown as an excuse to stop children visiting another parent could end up facing court disapproval and consequences.

He warned: “If the parents are acting in a cynical and opportunistic manner, then that’s wrong, and the courts will regard it as wrong.”

It has however been noted that Family solicitors are seeing an increase in enquires regarding child arrangements, indicating that parents are arguing about the arrangements in place. Some parents have also been found to have exploited the guidance and have stopped visits altogether.

During this time in which tensions are often running high, there have been cases where sadly the trust and communication between parents has broken down, and conversations over child visits have become impossible.

Many Family solicitors think that further clarity is now required and that the guidelines should state that children should move between homes – making it very clear that, provided the children are not being put at risk, arrangements should take place pursuant to previous agreements or court orders.

Sir Andrew said in his BBC interview that a child’s safety with regard to the virus is a matter for parental judgement, and the courts would not take that away.

He did however urge families in conflict to focus on children’s welfare, and to make sure children are in touch with both of their parents by saying “Do something you don’t want to do, for the sake of your child.”

At Price Slater Gawne we are able to offer sympathetic and objective advice to ensure that any issues concerning arrangements for children are resolved with the least amount of stress.

We understand that arrangements and issues concerning your children can be a very emotional and stressful part of any discussions with your former partner particularly in these unusual times of Covid-19 lockdown

If you wish to discuss matters, please call to speak to one of our Family Law specialists, Carole Nettleton on carole.nettleton@psg-law.co.uk  or Nicholas Clough on nicholas.clough@psg-law.co.uk or telephone 0161 615 5554.

If you are based outside of the Manchester area, we can correspond with you by email and we can arrange interviews by phone, Skype, Facetime or Zoom.

We are here to help and can offer a no obligation initial discussion to answer any questions you may have.