We are currently within very unfamiliar territory with the recent pandemic of Coronavirus. Times such as these can create extremely worrying environments for families and children, especially if your family’s circumstances are unstable or caught within ongoing court proceedings. With recent school closures, parents may be wondering how this will affect their child arrangement orders, particularly if one parent or both have been labelled as the child’s ‘key worker’.
This article will aim to provide clearer guidance to those seeking Child arrangement Orders and how Corona Virus will affect this.
Firstly, government advice as of 26 March 2020 urges everyone to stay at home as much as they can. If someone is displaying symptoms of Coronavirus then they should ‘self-isolate’ for a period of 14 days. This advice should be followed by the whole household, or anyone that has come into close contact with that person recently. Furthermore, the government advices that if you are living with children then each household should carry on following this advice as best as they can.
Whilst these government measures are extremely important and should be followed at all times, it is also understandable that they will cause a great deal of disruption to your families child arrangement circumstances, and will require a level of flexibility and understanding between each party over the next coming weeks and months in order to care appropriately for the involved child/ren.
Studying the government guidelines, it clearly states that a government lockdown WILL NOT prevent you from seeing your children. As of the 23rd March 2020, the government guidelines state that children who are under the age of 18 years old can be moved between parents’ homes. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others
However, it should be noted that whilst this is allowed, transporting children between households within these current times is very unsafe. Your child’s welfare is paramount and should always be placed into first consideration. If you are in a place to do so, communicating with the other party to organise safe travel arrangements and plans for short-term support if you or a member of the household become ill is recommended. It is also important to consider other ways of communicating with your child and continuing to build a strong relationship up with them, this can be achieved through different methods, such as Facetime, Skype or telephone. Deliveries are still currently allowed, so sending parcels or letters to your children will also be much appreciated.
If you are currently involved in ongoing court proceedings regarding your Child Arrangement Order, current advice is that courts will still remain open. However, this may change depending on the rapidly changing circumstances so it best to keep up to date with your court hearing dates. If circumstances change, your court date may be adjourned or if the hearing is urgent then a telephone appointment may be organised. If you have any concerns and we are acting for you it is best to call us up to check.
It is a scary and unprecedented period for everyone, so it is crucial that we consider how children must be feeling within this time. Ensure to be appropriately honest with your children about Coronavirus, as they have the right to understand what is going on, however be particularly sensitive to their levels of anxiety. I have found a great link published by “Manuela Molina”, which helps explain Coronavirus to children. Please find this in the link below:
Please remember that SMQ are here to help answer any questions that you have. We are declared as “Key Workers” by the government meaning that we are open like usual and will be working our hardest to support all our clients and those seeking legal advice. We offer free 20 minute telephone appointments for all new clients.
By Olivia Mann