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Covid-19 restrictions and child contact

View profile for Emma Walker
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Covid-19 restrictions and child contact

Although there is the prospect of current Covid-19 restrictions easing on a stage-by-stage basis, it can be difficult for separated parents to understand what is permitted in relation to child contact arrangements; so we thought it would be helpful to summarise the current position.

The government guidance allows for the movement of children between households where their parents are separated. If there are court orders in place defining the amount of time a child should spend with each parent, those court orders should be followed, where possible. If it is not possible, then the spirit of the order should be followed. Whilst every case turns on its own facts and merits, it is clear from decisions being made across the country, that the Family Court will not consider kindly the conduct of parents who use the provisions of lockdown as an excuse to stop contact, be difficult in respect of contact or indeed thwart a court order.

However, there are occasions when a court would not expect contact to take place for example where a member of the child’s household, or indeed the child itself, has tested positive for Coronavirus or has been advised to self-isolate. It is also likely that the Family Court will not consider one parent shielding to be a reasonable excuse for thwarting contact. Common sense needs to be applied and if face-to-face contact is to be suspended then additional forms of contact should be offered such as Zoom, FaceTime, telephone calls, etc. 

In summary, children should still move between their parents for contact purposes, where safe to do so.  Covid-19 should not be used as an excuse for thwarting child contact, irrespective of whether or not there is a court order. If you have any concerns in respect of child contact, or you are involved in a scenario where the other parent is trying to use Covid-19 as an excuse, you should seek immediate legal advice from a fully qualified family law Solicitor. We have an experienced family law team at Harrowells who can assist with any queries you have.

Our articles are intended for general information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. We are always very happy to discuss any plans, issues or concerns you may have and to clarify how we might be able to help. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.