Our family law team have received a number of queries regarding child contact arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic, both from new and existing clients. Whilst some clients are putting measures in place and continuing to adhere to Contact Orders, many parents are choosing not to send their children to contact.
If a Court Order is in place, parents should discuss, as far as possible, between them their ability to comply with Orders, and attempt to find practical solutions to adhere to Court orders and do what is in the best interests of the children.
Each individual case is different, with every family having very different circumstances. In the absence of guidance from the Court, parents are for now left to make their own decisions regarding contact arrangements and the risk of infection.
Decisions should be made in line with government guidelines, any medical advice they have been given, whilst also taking into consideration the health of their children and any members of either household who fall under the “high risk category”.
These are unprecedented times and parents should do their utmost to ensure regular contact continues between the children and each parent, in line with the government’s guidance. If it is not safe, or not in the child’s best interest to send them to contact, then the parent they are residing with should ensure indirect contact takes place with the other parent by way of skype or video calls.
Whilst not adhering to a Contact Order is a breach of a Court Order, and strictly speaking ‘Contempt of Court,’ it is hoped that the Court will take a sensible approach when these matters come before the Court after this health crisis is over. The Court will need to take into consideration the safety concerns of each parent, and if these concerns were justifiable and reasonable in the circumstances.
There is no doubt this is a very difficult time for separated parents trying to manage child arrangements. At Edwards and Co. Solicitors we are here to help and continue in our commitment to providing advice and assistance in respect of all children’s matters in a professional, practical and caring way. If you wish to discuss any concern in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact Carla Fraser.