As many of us watched on last night’s news, Boris Johnson made the incredible announcement that we will only be allowed to leave our homes in a very limited set of circumstances namely;
- Shopping for basic necessities
- One form of exercise per day
- Any medical need
- Travelling to and from work when work cannot be done from home.
The first consideration I had was for the many parents I represent in family matters and how contact arrangements could continue with such a lockdown. The government has since added that children aged 18 or under can move between their parent’s homes. After some confusion following an appearance on Good Morning Britain by Michael Gove, Minister of the Cabinet Office, where he said this did not mean children of separated families could move, he has since clarified matters on BBC Breakfast to say that he was mistaken and children under 18 could move.
This will provide some reassurance to those families. Where court orders are in place, they should be adhered to as much as is reasonably practical. Obviously, if someone is unwell or there is a strong possibility that they may become unwell, then caution should be taken when considering if contact is in the best interests of children. In those cases, consideration of alternative ways of having contact such as via Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or telephone should be considered or actively encouraged.
In those cases where orders are not in place, parents should communicate to come up with a plan for what they feel is in the best interests of the child. This can either be agreed between themselves or if a more formal document is needed, a Parenting Agreement drafted, which if both parents agree can be submitted to Court to be made into a legally enforceable order. A solicitor can assist with the preparation of this document.
We are facing difficult times in our country at the moment. It is important that parents work together to ensure that children are still able to maintain positive relationships.