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Covid-19 and Child Arrangements

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt across the country and is affecting every aspect of our lives. Separated parents are, however, facing some unique difficulties in respect of making decisions when it comes to the care arrangements for children.

With regards the current restrictions on movement and travel the government has specifically exempted handovers of children between separated parents. However, although the government has said that handovers can take place, it has not said that they should or must. Accordingly, separated parents are having to make hard decisions and in some cases parents will inevitably disagree about how best to manage the situation.

As far as possible, of course, it is important that separated parents communicate positively, try to understand each other’s position, and work towards an agreement. This is best for everyone, not least the children. Even where there is agreement that children should still spend time with both parents, the parents should nonetheless still minimise the potential for argument by agreeing what things can and cannot be done with the children (e.g. whether both parents are comfortable with the children being taken out of the house and for how long). Parents should also look to agree routines for the children that can be maintained across both households, perhaps especially in relation to education and school work.

If the current situation makes it impossible for one parent to have the children in their care, then it might be that agreement can be reached in respect of that parent having some extra time with the children later in the year when, hopefully, things are returning to normal. In the meantime perhaps parents agree to use regular video calls to facilitate contact. Another idea might be for parents and children to make and send videos to each other.

Ultimately, as was the case even before the Covid-19 crisis, and as will still be the case after, the key words for separated parents are empathy and flexibility. If separated parents are able to demonstrate both then there is no reason why children can’t continue to have a positive and meaningful relationship with both parents even during this challenging time. It is worth bearing in mind that children will already be feeling anxious and confused given everything that is going on (although they do tend to be remarkably adaptable and resilient) and even where there is animosity between parents real efforts must be made to protect the children from disagreement and conflict.

Unfortunately, there will be separated parents who are unable to reconcile their differences of opinion and if agreement cannot be reached, and one parent feels that they are being unfairly excluded, an application can still be made to court as a last resort.

If you are having difficulties and would like to speak to our expert family law team please do not hesitate to contact us.

Carline Gayle-Buckle                         Karol Kaliczak

01926 491181                                    07946 491290

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