Coronavirus and my children
Mar 30, 2020
With families across the UK and far beyond facing incredibly difficult challenges, we want to reassure you that we are here for you. A particular concern raised by a number of our clients in recent days is in relation to arrangements for their children.
Parents who have separated or divorced and who share contact are having to consider very carefully if their existing arrangements should carry on as they are. With self-isolation in full swing, and social distancing now a new way of life for the foreseeable, parents are understandably anxious about their children moving between homes and coming into contact with wider family networks – not least elderly and other vulnerable relatives. They may be worried that their ex-partner isn’t taking things as seriously as they should. And added to that is the concern that, as in many cases, there is a Child Arrangement Order to comply with.
A Child Arrangement Order is put in place by the courts when a separated couple cannot agree arrangements for their children. It sets out where the children should live and how time should be shared between the parents. It is prepared with the children’s best interests at its heart, as opposed to what each parent might like or feel they are entitled to.
Clients have told us they are worried about breaching their Child Arrangement Order by insisting that their children stay in one home for longer spells than the Order allows. While it’s usually the case that a breach could lead to the courts taking enforcement action, if there is a reasonable excuse for derogating from the Order, then the court is unlikely to penalise that parent.
It is far better to avoid getting into that argument at all, however. And one way of doing that is to agree a new arrangement with your ex-partner. That may be easier said than done, and we don’t underestimate the difficulty some former couples have in communicating with one another. However, given the particular circumstances we’re in, it may be that an agreement is more attainable than you might think.
None of this is easy. And while normal life and routines have been and will continue to be thrown massively out of kilter, we’ll all have to adjust. That might mean relying on FaceTime, Skype and the like to maintain contact between children, parents, and the wider family. It could also mean trying to set aside differences with your ex-partner. Just as you might want your ex-partner to co-operate with you, do your best to co-operate in return – always with your children’s welfare at the centre of your discussions.
This continues to be a changing picture, and we would urge anyone concerned about how best to deal with their personal situation to check the latest Government and NHS advice, and to speak to us about the legal issues. In the meantime, stay safe and well.
To find out more about how mediation could work for you, contact one of our specialist solicitors on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01264 353411. We would be delighted to help you.
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