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Childcare arrangements during Covid-19 lockdown 27/04/2020

The Head of the Family Courts, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has provided guidance in relation to separated parents' contact with their children in the current Covid-19 crisis. This guidance is to assist parents in understanding whether contact should be taking place given the Government measures of social distancing.

In short, the guidance states that children under 18 years can move from household to household to visit the parent they do not live with, on the basis that both households are healthy. The parents must assess this risk, if any. So, whether the time children spend with the other parent is ordered by the court or not, the usual arrangements should continue if it is safe to do so. If it is not deemed safe for the child to move between households, indirect contact such as video calls and telephone calls should take place until direct contact can resume.

If parents are unable to agree the varied version of the contact arrangements, or there is persistent breach of an existing Child Arrangements Order, then an application can be made to the court. However, the court would be unable to enforce an existing Child Arrangements Order if to do so would place a person's health at risk. Nor is the court likely to penalise a party in breach of a Child Arrangement Order if the contact was stopped due to a genuine risk to a person's health.

There is already the suggestion that some parents are exploiting the rules and interpreting them to fit their situation. It is extremely important that parents work together in these very difficult and unprecedented times to ensure children continue to see both parents on a regular basis and that parents are able to assess the risk, if any, together. If such agreement cannot be reached, an application to the court can be made.

For full details of the Government's guidance, please see link below:

https://www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-crisis-guidance-on-compliance-with-family-court-child-arrangement-orders/

For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.

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Manor Law Ltd, trading as Manor Law Family Solicitors, is a registered company in England and Wales - number 7977350, and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - Hertford office SRA number 567506 and City of London office SRA number 568637. Copyright © Manor Law, 2016. All rights reserved.
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