How does Coronavirus affect contact with my children?
Last night, the Prime Minister announced new rules on staying at home and away from others. This morning, there has already been conflicting messages in the media regarding what impact these new rules have on separated parents.
In short, the government has recognised that it may be necessary, for children who are under 18, to move between separated parents. This is permissible and has been made clear in the guidance.
Over the past few days, Cafcass have provided some excellent advice about how to navigate co-parenting and child arrangements during the pandemic. Here are some of their key points to bear in mind:
- At the moment, children can move between separated parents. However, it is important that parents continue to follow the government’s guidance.
- If you are not able to maintain your child’s normal routine (whether this is because of illness/isolation, a change in the government’s guidance) then communicate this to the other parent. Obviously if there are Court orders in place preventing direct communication then you may need to use an appropriate third party to help you.
- If contact gets missed, think about ways of making this up when the restrictions are lifted. It is important to remember that it’s not about making up the exact hours and minutes, it is about what is best for the children and for them to have quality time with both parents.
- Think of other ways to stay in touch such as Skype or Facetime. This can be used as a way of keeping in touch and having some fun together! If you or your child does need to be isolated or contact is not possible, it is going to feel difficult to miss out on time together. It can be helpful to think of creative ways to stay in touch such as online movie nights (when everyone gathers together and watches a movie commenting and reacting in real time).
- Be mindful of your children not overhearing discussions about Court hearings or any disagreements. Many Court hearings will be going ahead over video-conferencing or telephone and it is important that children cannot overhear these.
It is of course key to recognise that the government’s guidance is changing all the time and it is important that everyone complies with the restrictions. Children may be feeling anxious and it is important that parents can work together to reach agreements which keep them, and their children, safe and well.
If you have any questions or would like advice, contact our Family team on the number below we are happy to help at this uncertain time.
Bath 01225 750000 | Sherborne 01935 813691 | Wells 01749 342323