COVID-19 and Child Arrangements

COVID-19 is a viral crisis which has taken the world by storm. This crisis has led to parents whose children are subject to Child Arrangements Orders being concerned as to their ability to meet the requirements of the family court orders in a safe and effective manner. On the 23rd March 2019 the Prime Minister ordered the people of the country to stay at home in a bid to fight this virus. This has resulted in parents seeking clarification as to whether they need to adhere to family court orders in respect of their children. Subsequent guidance issued by the government dealing with child contact arrangements states “where parents do not live in the same household, children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents homes”. Below is a guide on how to ensure parents and their children remain safe amidst this public health crisis and continue to effectively co-parent their children.

Contact, Self-Isolation and Stay at home rules

As per the above government guidance children are allowed to move between their parents homes despite the stay at home rules. According to this guidance child arrangement orders should be complied with unless these cause possible risks to the child or others. Based on the latest guidance contact of the child with the non-resident parent should continue and take place in the normal manner unless there are medically justified or self-isolation reasons. Providing contact for children in the normal manner will provide security to the children as well a sense of continuity and reassurance that both parents are safe and well. As with adults children will be concerned with the crisis which could cause disruption to their normal daily life.

What happens to child contact arrangements if I suspect my child to have COVID-19 symptoms?

If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or you feel they have contracted the virus then your child should be placed into self-isolation. This would be a justifiable reason for not moving your child between households. You should consider notifying the other parent of this situation as soon as possible. If you feel the other parent is not understanding and is still demanding child contact then you may wish to consult with our family lawyers for legal advice.

What can I do if child contact cannot take place?

Despite neither you nor your child having any symptoms of COVID-19 it may not possible to facilitate contact. This could be due to someone in your household who is showing symptoms or is affected. In such a scenario government advice on self-isolation should be followed to ensure your child is not placed at risk of contracting the virus. Where physical contact is not possible due to whatever reasons you could think about alternative arrangements such as regular skype or face time calls.

Be transparent and honest with each other when co-parenting during COVID-19

At the time of this crisis parents should be as honest, open and transparent as possible to each other with matters concerning their own health and their children’s health. Where either the parents or the children are showing symptoms or at risk of exposure to the virus this should discussed urgently. Parents should try and amicably reach a solution on what steps each parent will take to protect the child and themselves from the exposure. Both parents should also inform each other at once if any one is showing any possible symptoms. Where one parents contact will be affected by the outbreak one parent should try and allow the other parent the opportunity to make up this time.

Maintain routine and security for the children

Children are also affected by the current situation and may also be feeling down and subdued. Parents should try and provide comfort to their children by maintaining their normal routine. This will also provide a sense of security to the children which is needed at this time. Children should be encouraged to stick to normal routines with regards to their meals, play times, bed time routines. Given that children are off from school they should also be allowed to have movie nights and enjoy themselves at the comfort of their home.

Parents are encouraged to make a schedule for themselves and their children which has time for activities as well as free time. Children should also be encouraged to help plan the routine for the day. Daily routine should also include exercise in each day to main the health and fitness of children as well as helping them with reducing stress and exerting their energy.

Parents should remain calm and manage stress

COVID-19 is a stressful time and parents will only be able to support their children when they are able to take care of themselves. However, parents should remember they are not alone, thousands of households are undergoing the same issues. Parents should ensure they regularly keep in contact with their close network of family and friends to discuss how they are feeling.

Parents should also take a break wherever possible during the day. Having children at home may not be ideal everyday however parents should try and do somethings they enjoy and relax whenever possible. This could be when the children are sleep or are occupied with other activities.

Parents should also help their children manage stress by listening to them. Children will be looking to their parents for support and reassurances. Parents should encourage their children to how they are feeling whether hey have any concerns and should provide them comfort when needed.

Be understanding

The current pandemic will pose both physical as well as economic hardships on parents. Parents should try and understand the situation better and attempt to support the other parent where possible. There may be times where one parent is required to work from home, in this situation if possible the parent should be both understanding and co-operative and agree to look after the children.

There maybe situations where the parent who makes child maintenance is unable to make these due to the virus impacting their employment. In this case the resident parent should also return the common courtesy and not jump to adverse conclusions and instead should support the parent where possible.

Remain amicable and maintain effective communication

The best way to co-parent your children during COVID-19 is to ensure you remain amicable with the other parent. Parents would not like to escalate issues further or create further stress than they are suffering. In order to successfully co-parents, both parents should maintain effective communication with each other for the best interests and health and safety of their children. Where parents do not remain on amicable speaking terms they should make use of the methods such as text messages and emails. This is not a time to fight personal battles, but a time to unite for your children and loved ones.

Remain Safe and ensure you comply with the government guidelines to cleanliness, health safety and self-isolation rules. By doing so you will be able to manage your children better during this turbulent time and co-parent effectively.

Arrange a free consultation today for legal advice

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Arrange a free consultation today by calling us on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.

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Kabir Family Law Fulham

Kabir Family Law Fulham
Chester House
1st and 3rd Floors
81 - 83 Fulham High Street
Fulham
London
SW63JA

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Kabir Family Law Northampton

20-30a Abington Street
Northampton
NN1 2JA

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Kabir Family Law Oxford

1 & 3 Kings Meadow
Oxford
OX2 0DP

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Kabir Family Law Newcastle

Clavering House
Clavering Place
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear
NE1 3NG

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Kabir Family Law London
16 High Holborn
Holborn
London
WC1V6BX

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Tower Court
3 Oakdale Road
North Yorkshire
York
YO30 4XL

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