Be sensible about shared custody in lockdown

Posted on: March 25th, 2020

As you can imagine, many people are concerned about how their lives are going to be impacted over the next few weeks.

We’re suggested to our clients with shared care arrangements that a ‘sensible approach’ must be taken to ensure the wellbeing of their children during the country-wide lockdown.

This follows the announcement by Michael Gove MP on 24 March that children under the age of 18 would still be able to travel between parental houses, despite non-essential travel being prohibited.

Court-ordered visitation rights are legally binding, however we suggest that parents must be sensible and think of the best interest of the child, and if any member of the household is symptomatic, they should follow government guidance about self-isolation.

Janet Ford, our head of private family law, said: “It’s an incredibly confusing time for everyone, and, of course, if the child is in a position to carry out normal visitation during the lockdown, they should continue to do so.

“However, if the child could have been exposed to the coronavirus, the government’s self-isolation recommendations should be adhered to. Similarly, if one parent is symptomatic or needs to self-isolate, it would not be in the child’s best interest to visit them.

“During this period, co-parenting families need to ensure they’re communicating openly. It would be dreadful for one parent to feel that the other is using the lockdown as an excuse to refuse access, and worse still if this was actually the case.

“If there is an issue with transport, or one of the parents or the child needs to self-isolate, parents should look at alternative methods of communication, such as calls or video chats, to make sure the relationship can be maintained.

“The government has specified that children under the age of 18 are permitted to travel between parents, therefore this should be done if it is at all possible. If there is no or low risk of cross-contamination between households, there is no reason the child cannot carry out usual visits.”

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