Complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During the Pandemic
The last few months have been a troubling time for everyone whilst dealing with the chaotic situation that the pandemic has inflicted on families across the world. For some, however, there is another complication to consider when it comes to keeping safe and complying with the rules that have resulted from the pandemic. For separated families with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders in place, careful navigation of the rules and regulations is essential. But don’t worry; here at Vines Legal, we’ve answered some of the most common questions we’ve been asked about complying with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders during the pandemic.
Can Children Move Between the Homes of Separated Parents in the UK?
The Stay at Home Rules were issued on 23rd March. Alongside this, the Government offered guidance which dealt specifically with child contact arrangements. It says: “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
Obviously, this establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement. But it doesn’t mean that children must be moved between homes. In order to make a decision about whether a child is to move between parental homes, the child’s parents should make a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
Since the original guidance in March, local restriction tier guidance for England was issued on 2nd December 2020, and states that “exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers” include that for the purposes of “arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”. This includes moving between tiers for the same purpose.
How Should Parents Comply with Court Orders for Contact in the UK?
In order to ensure compliance with Child Arrangement Orders, the President of the Family Division of the High Court has issued national guidance for parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangement Orders made by the Family Court. This guidance states that parents, acting in agreement, are free to decide that the arrangements set out in a Child Arrangements Order should be temporarily varied. There is further guidance regarding situations where parents do not agree, however, which goes into arrangements in more detail.
The “key message”, the guidance states, should be that “where Coronavirus restrictions cause the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child”.
Guidance for Parents with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders During Covid
As you can see, the pandemic has resulted in some variations to Family Court Child Arrangement Orders that can cause confusion if not properly researched and implemented. Here at Vines Legal, we’ve got extensive knowledge of Child Arrangements Orders, and can help to support families navigating arrangements throughout the pandemic. For guidance and advice, please contact us on 01246 555610 for a free initial consultation.
By Vines Legal on 28 Dec 2020, 13:42 PM