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The Coronavirus and Child Contact Issues
If you are separated from your child’s other parent and need to make arrangements for your child with regards to where they spend their time, whether they go to school and what happens with the Easter Holiday; it’s highly likely that the Corona Virus is going to cause some problems.
The legal position
The law states that parents share parental responsibility between (unless you are an unmarried father, not named on the child’s birth certificate and with no previous family court involvement). This means that you should make important decisions regarding children between you. The top priority of the family court is a child’s welfare. This must be the court’s overriding concern when decide whether or not to make orders and decisions regarding a child.
What can you do?
- If there is an existing court order in place which makes provision for where a child is to spend their time or to travel during the holidays then the order should be adhered to. If it is not being followed, then consider applying to court to enforce that order or for a specific issue order.
- If you and the child’s other parent cannot agree arrangements for the child between you then consider making an application to court for a Child Arrangements Order.
- Consider attending mediation as a way to try to resolve matters with the assistance of an independent mediator. This can be done remotely via Skype, telephone call, Zoom or Facetime. This is a much quicker way to deal with the matter and is much more cost effective. It also enables parties to have much more control over the process.
Q1. Is transporting a child between parents deemed to be essential travel?
A1. Yes, you may transport a child between parents. The child must continue to enjoy a relationship with both parents unless that is not possible.
Q2: The other parent and I don’t have a court order in place determining where our child spends their time. How do we reach an agreement between us?
A2: You try to agree with the other parent in the same way you always have. If that proves difficult then please consider attending at mediation or seeking legal advice.
Q3: My child lives with the other parent and they have said they are self-isolating or are showing symptoms. How will my time with the child take place?
A3: If a parent or the child has symptoms or is self-isolating due to a preexisting medical condition then it may be the case that direct face to face contact cannot take place. In those circumstances you should ensure you promote other means of contact as much as possible, whether that be facetime, skype, phone call or text message. A relationship with both parents should continue to be promoted.
Q4: I have been seeing my child at a contact centre but have now been told the centre has to close. How do I see my child?
A4: You must attempt to agree with the other parent another form of contact with your child, whether that be facetime, skype or telephone call. Your relationship with the child should continue to be promoted.
Q5. Is the other parent breaching our existing court order by not allowing contact to take place?
A5. It depends entirely on the circumstances. We would advise that you seek legal advice upon this.
- Agree a routine with the other parent with regards to hand washing, learning and education and rules on visitors.
- If a child lives with you but you are not able to send the child for contact due to health issues or because you are showing symptoms, let the other parent know and tried to set up an alternative medium for contact.
- If you are now unable to take your child on holiday during Easter due to travel restrictions, could you alter those travel arrangements?
- Maintain an open line of communication with the other parent.
- If you cannot agree matters with the other parent, contact Elliot Mather and Dove Mediation and we will provide you with further assistance.
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