Covid affects parental arrangements | Davis Blank Furniss Solicitors
Brigid OMalley

Following on from the article in which I summarised how the Government’s latest Coronavirus advice impacts the arrangements for children of separated parents, the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary have also issued supplementary advice that may help parents facing difficult decisions about their children in light of the Coronavirus and the Government’s advice on social distancing.

The advice they have published, written by the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice, explains that parental responsibility for a child/children who is the subject of a Child Arrangements Order rests with the child(ren)’s parents and not with the Court. What this means in real terms is that although the Government advice is “where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes”, the decisions as to whether a child should move between their parents’ homes comes down to those with parental responsibility, usually their parents, rather than the Court itself. Therefore, this does not mean “that children must be moved between homes” and this is a decision for you after making a “sensible” assessment of the circumstances, including the child(ren)’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.

A link to the Guidance on compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders from the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice can be found here.

If you are self-isolating, or your child(ren)’s parent is self-isolating then it may not be appropriate for your child(ren) to travel between two houses. It may also be that after considering all of the options you believe that it is not the most safe or sensible option for your child(ren) to visit their other parent. However, where possible contact between your child(ren) and their other parent should take place and Child Arrangements Orders should be complied with. Reasonable and meaningful contact should still be arranged wherever possible.

If you cannot facilitate direct face to face contact during this time, then we would encourage you to think about how else you could facilitate your child(ren) spending time with their other parent. As explained in our last article  you could consider setting up regular Facetime or Skype contact. Setting up this technology may also assist you in other ways – for example if you need to work from home or keep in touch with wider family members and friends. You could ask the other parent to complete an educational or craft activity with your child(ren) to also ensure they continue to be involved in your child(ren)’s education and also to make the indirect contact productive and fun.

Our best advice is, if possible, to open the lines of communication between you and your child(ren)’s other parent as soon as is practical in an effort to reach an agreement about how the arrangements for the child(ren) might work in these unprecedented times. It would be sensible if you reach alternative agreements as to the arrangements for your child(ren) to detail this within a note, email or text message to each other.

If your child(ren) is subject to a Child Arrangements Order then you may be worried about varying the arrangements within that Order for fear that you may be found you have breached that Order. However, the advice from the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice states that even if the other parent does not agree to vary the arrangements as set out in the Child Arrangements Order in light of concerns over Coronavirus but that parent is sufficiently concerned and has good reason to vary the terms of the Child Arrangements Order then, with explanation, the Court may find that that parent has safely and sensibly exercised their parental responsibility. It may be when your matter returns to Court over the coming months the Family Court is asked to consider whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the Government’s advice and the strict Stay at Home Rules at this unprecedented time.

If you are in any doubt our team of family solicitors remain on hand and ready to help you if you have any queries or concerns about the arrangements for your child(ren)ren during this difficult time. Please contact a member of the Family Team on 0161 832 3304 (Manchester) or 01457 860 606 (Glossop) if you require any advice.



Read what our clients have to say...

View All

Excellent experience start to finish – always very responsive to any queries and the turnaround on the property I was buying was very quick, even in the busy time leading up to stamp duty deadline. Jenny was always very helpful and went above and beyond to close on a short timescale.

Ben Armitage

“Very approachable, practical solutions to problems, but most of all very responsive which I personally think is very important because if you need help, you need it quickly, or at least to know someone is looking at it for you”.

Joanne Rowe, Finance Director, Greater Manchester Chamber

“Always able to contact, very approachable, friendly and professional”

Nives Feely, JAM Recruitment

“I believe I have been able to establish a professional working relationship with everyone I have come into contact. Importantly, I sense the relationships which have been established give me the confidence that I can make contact with Davis Blank Furniss at any time and on any matter. I would also like to express my thanks to the very impressive “gatekeepers” who work in reception, not only for making me very welcome, but also for their professionalism”

Bill Pryke, CEO, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors

“Thank you for your efficient and friendly help throughout this process. We have had it easy but your approach has been part of that”.

Robert Amsbury (Conveyancing Client)

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for the ongoing support and assistance the firm has offered to our parents over the years. I hope also that we may be able to call on you if necessary in the future.”

Valerie Fisher (Probate Client)

“Jo always provides great service, understands our needs and delivers on her promises. Our needs are relatively simple but the complexity arises out of the volume of work and short time frames, Jo always delivers.”

Peter Fernandez, Corporate Director at Royal Bank of Scotland

“A big thank you to all who dealt with my wife’s claim… We would not hesitate to recommend Davis Blank Furniss to anyone that may be in a situation like we have been…”

Anon (Personal Injury client)

“Before putting my case in Kirsty (Morbey)’s capable hands I’ve met a couple of other solicitors. None of them listen to me as intently as Kirsty and showed me as much empathy and understanding as she did. Simultaneously she was able to look at my case from legal perspective, explain all the options and follow each of our meetings with written summary of the discussed matters (in timely manner). Her advice was invaluable and led me to successfully ending the case matter (hopeful for good). I’m forever grateful for he work and would definitely recommend her to anyone looking for reliable, knowledgeable and committed solicitor”.

Anon (Family client)
5 star service

Our Manchester office is rated 5 stars on Google