Child contact arrangements during the coronavirus outbreak
The ongoing difficulties and concerns following the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic have been constantly presenting themselves over the last few months. In particular, since schools closed in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Friday 20 March (with the exception of vulnerable children and children of ‘key workers’), and the government has advised the general public to practice social distancing, separated parents will be facing various practical difficulties in terms of child contact.
Most parties will have child contact arrangements already in place, whether this is through a verbal, written, or court order agreement. However, given the current circumstances, parties will need to review their arrangements if either the child or a carer becomes ill with coronavirus-related symptoms.
In the event of this, this parent should communicate with the other to explain the situation. Communication is vital in these times, and by communicating this as soon as possible, legal professionals can better assist the parties to put an interim plan in place; whereby arrangements can be amended at short notice for the welfare of the children.
A welfare principal is entrenched within the Children Act and the children’s welfare is considered. If these arrangements have been put in place, it should diffuse any conflict, obviate the need for any conflict or parties bringing applications before the court for a Child Arrangement Order or to enforce an existing Order.