Child arrangement orders amid Covid-19

Posted: Thursday April 9 2020

By: Anthony Ball

During these uncertain times, it’s important for parents to consider their Child Arrangements Orders and any similar informal arrangements.

Child arrangement orders amid Covid-19

Keebles LLP Legal Director, Antony Ball, outlines some legal guidance for families going through these unprecedented times who may be affected.

With the pandemic anticipated to last weeks, if not months, both parents will need to work together to help with childcare and to ensure the children still see both parents as previously arranged.

Although government advice should always be taken into account, previous arrangements must still be complied with and COVID-19 should not be used as an excuse to prevent one parent from seeing their children, nor for Orders to be breached, unless completely necessary.

Every single case is going to need assessment based on its own individual circumstances, but the main factor will always be to make decisions in the best interests of your children, whilst being able to comply with Court Orders as much as possible.

If there is any detraction from an Order that hasn’t been consented to, the other parent will need to be able to clearly justify and evidence such actions to the court, as it will not automatically be accepted by the courts and will still be a breach of court order, with potential sanctions.

Necessary cases will arise, and parents will need to continue to communicate clearly and concisely, using other forms of contact recommended including phone and video calls.  Similar methods can also be used for larger families if needed.

Whilst the Courts will remain open, they are going to be under a large amount of strain, so agreements between parents by consent are to be advised based on safe, pragmatic solutions with the welfare of the child being the paramount concern.

Unilateral decisions that breach a court order could however be considered very differently, with applications still being made for enforcement of orders. Further guidance can be found on www.judiciary.uk/announcements/coronavirus-crisis-guidance-on-compliance-with-family-court-child-arrangement-orders.

The main thing to consider during these circumstances is, however strained the relationship between parents, that these are extraordinary times and it is important that everyone works together and, if time is of the essence, consider the flexibility that mediation can offer.