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Coronavirus and Child Contact Arrangements

One of the unfortunate, but not unexpected, results of the coronavirus pandemic has been an upsurge in arguments between separated parents over child contact arrangements.

Some parents have chosen to exploit the Government’s Covid-19 guidance and stop contact visits altogether.

The President of the Family Division, the most senior Family Court Judge in the country, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has warned that those exploiting the coronavirus lockdown for their own ends could face legal action. He has warned:

“…if the parents are acting in a cynical and opportunistic manner, then that’s wrong, and the courts will regard it as wrong”.

The official guidance states that children under the age of 18 can move between households, as long as both households are healthy, and there has been a sensible discussion, and an assessment made that the children would not be placed at risk.

Family lawyers have been calling for the government to provide even greater clarity on when parents should and should not be altering child arrangements.

Cabinet Minister Michael Gove caused initial confusion among families when the lockdown was first announced. Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain he said that children should remain in the household they are currently in. Shortly afterwards, he then told BBC Breakfast that children under 18 could move between households.

Sir Andrew believes that the current guidance to parents is adequate, and that a child’s safety in relation to the virus is a matter for parental judgement. He has urged conflicting parents to focus on child welfare, and to cooperate, to ‘do something you don’t want to do, for the sake of your child’.

If you have been experiencing difficulties over child arrangements during the current pandemic, and are seeking advice, our experienced and specialist family lawyers will be happy to talk to you and discuss a way forward.

Cartwright King has lawyers in many areas of law, and the information we are sharing has been written by Head of Family law Karen Brennan.

For specialist advice in any of our areas of law, please call us or please email your enquiry using the contact form below.
 

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