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Christmas child arrangements for separated parents

View profile for Amy Foweather
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Christmas child arrangements for separated parents

Whilst 2020 has been difficult for everybody, it has been particularly difficult for separated parents trying to accommodate child arrangements, whether they have a court order, or not. This has not been helped by conflicting government guidance and confusion over the Tier systems.

As Christmas approaches, it is strongly advised that you have your plans in place and that you understand what is and is not permitted and expected. For the avoidance of doubt, regardless of which Tier you are in, the travel of a child to accommodate time with another parent is permitted and should be accommodated wherever possible. One exception being where there is a need for isolation in line with government guidelines, currently being 10 days or until a negative test.

It is reasonable to expect evidence for isolation to be given to the other parent and for reasonable steps to be taken to test the child and other members of the household as soon as possible. For example, evidence can include a notice of contact from the NHS app or a positive test result from someone in the household, or indeed the child themselves.

There are also rare cases when one parent has failed to comply with government guidance and, as a consequence, the child has been placed at high risk, or continues to be placed in high risk situations. In these cases, legal advice should be taken to ensure suitable variations and steps are put in place.

In the event of missed arrangements with one parent due to isolation, it would be reasonable to vary any arrangements by consent, so to ensure the child does not miss out on time with both parents and both sides of the family. If, by consent, court orders can be varied to accommodate any necessary changes this year and without the need to attend court or inform the court.  

Those parents who seek to unreasonably use Covid-19 restrictions as an excuse to prevent time with the other parent over Christmas are likely to be strongly criticised by the Court.

If you have experienced difficulties concerning Christmas arrangements, please call our team of experts for advice.