With the country in lockdown once again, a number of questions have arisen regarding separated families and contact with children.
The House of Commons have issued a useful briefing paper.
The most common question is regarding children moving between homes if their parents are separated. Whilst currently individuals should not leave their home without reasonable excuse, children moving between households is permitted for the purpose of child contact. This does not mean that children must move between homes. However, any decision to restrict contact is likely to be scrutinised if matters need to go to court.
However, when a child is told to self-isolate, the position differs somewhat. The isolation period is 14 days. They must only leave home for the purposes of seeking medical attention. Therefore, they should not move for the purposes of contact.
Furthermore, the President of the Family Court has indicated in cases where there is a Court Order in force but because of the restrictions the Order cannot be complied with, the spirit of the Order should still be adhered to. In this case, contact should take place via another platform such as telephone, or FaceTime for example.
The virus has also impacted on us financially. In cases involving separated parents, this also includes child maintenance. If the agreement is made on an informal basis, then discussions need to take place between the parents. If there are more formal arrangements in place through the child maintenance service, then any significant changes to income of more than 25% per week need to be reported to the Child Maintenance Service.
As the lockdown progresses more issues are likely to arise. It is prudent if you have any questions to get them answered at the earliest opportunity by a lawyer.