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Coronavirus and children moving between separated parents’ homes

As much of the country finds itself under “lockdown”, after the Prime Minister announced strict measures for leaving home on 23 March 2020, what is the position with children from separated families moving between households?

The PM in his address to the nation said people were allowed to leave home only for the following reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible
  2. One form of exercise a day, alone or with household members
  3. For medical or care needs
  4. Travel to and from work, but only if you cannot work from home.

Meeting friends and family, shopping for anything other than essentials and gathering in groups of more than 2 people (other than with members of your household) is now banned.

So where does that leave children of separated families moving between two homes?

Children and separated parents alike are used to child arrangements being in place, as to the time a child spends with each of the parents. Lack of routine is often unnerving for both children and parents and even more so in these current uncertain times.

The Government provided further guidance on 24 March 2020, confirming that where parents do not live in the same household, children under the age of 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

However, this does not mean that children must be moved between homes. The decision whether a child is to move between homes is for the child’s parents to determine taking into account the current circumstances, including the child’s present health, risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one or both homes.

On 24 March 2020, The Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice issued Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders during this Coronavirus Crisis.

The further clarity from the Government and the President’s guidance has provided much needed reassurance for families.

Above all, at this time parents should continue to communicate effectively with each other, in the best interests of their children.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, Hodge Jones & Allen will continue to provide advice and services for those in need of legal assistance. For expert family law legal advice please call 0808 271 9413 or request a call back