Guides & Advice

Maintaining child arrangements and adhering to court orders in the face of COVID-19

Published: 22nd March 2020
Area: Family

Will the coronavirus lockdown mean I can’t see my child?

We are all finding ourselves in unprecedented circumstances, in every aspect of our lives. When you are in the middle of a relationship breakdown, it is difficult enough to navigate those unchartered waters, without the added complication of a global pandemic.

If you are currently trying to negotiate with your former partner about the time you spend with your children, or you have recently obtained a child arrangements order through the court, you may be concerned about how this can work given the ongoing coronavirus situation.

This post explains the legal situation concerning child arrangements, court orders and the coronavirus lockdown. Read on to learn more about your rights in relation to seeing your child during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What do I do if my child spends half their time with me and have with my ex-partner?

It must be said that a huge amount of common sense, pragmatism and goodwill needs to be applied. If there is a court order in place, then each party must endeavour to adhere to this as far as is reasonably practicable. In our previous lives, it might have been that issues arose about late returns of children, last minute changes without good reason, return of the children’s belongings etc. However, these testing times should remind us that maintaining relationships and a routine is key to surviving these next few months.

Children need to keep seeing both parents during this period of uncertainty so parents need to work together, more than ever, to ensure this happens.

Can I still see my child if they don’t live with me?

The guidance published back in March 2020 stated that ‘where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes and the situation with child arrangements and coronavirus has not changed.

However, this does not mean that children must be moved between homes. Priority needs to be given to shielding vulnerable family members, and if a child is living in a household where a person shows symptoms, then the appropriate self-isolation period needs to be applied.

What do I do if my ex-partner is using coronavirus to stop me from seeing my child?

Unfortunately, in these unprecedented times there will always be people who try to take advantage of circumstances for their own benefit. Family law can cause high conflict and people caught in family disputes may behave very irrationally as they try to leverage situations to suit their goals.

If attempts to resolve the issue through civil discussions are unsuccessful, you could arrange for mediation through lawyers. In situations where court orders are already in place, contact the solicitors who arranged this initially – alternatively, get in touch with Helen Bowns in our family team to see how we can help.

Will lockdown stop my child arrangement hearing from happening?

At the time of writing our local courts are dealing with the majority of hearings remotely, either by video link or telephone, and the child’s welfare and the need to avoid delay will be taken into account when making decisions about listing the case for hearing.

At Shakespeare Martineau, it is business as usual. We are able to work from home and still deal with your case, and that can also include making an urgent application to the court if needed.

We remain committed to working alongside you to navigate your challenges, provide support and protect your interests during these uncertain times.

Contact Us

This post has explained the impact of coronavirus lockdown restrictions on court orders and child arrangements.

If you need some advice on maintaining child arrangements and adhering to court orders during the pandemic, no matter where you are on your journey, we can help to support and guide you through the options available - contact Helen Bowns in our family team.

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