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    23 March 2020

    Coronavirus: Can children still spend time with both parents?

    Whether you have a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) or simply have agreed times when your children will spend time with each parent, it is likely the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak will make arrangements challenging.

    Children are home from school and likely to be worried and unsettled by changes in routine. They need support and reassurance from parents so it’s crucial to minimise parental conflict and to show a united front.

    Here are some issues which are currently causing concern for parents:

    1. How should the children split their time between parents?

    Michael Gove, MP, confirmed that children under 18 CAN move between separated parents during the coronavirus restrictions saying that ‘Children under the age of 18 can see both parents.’

    1. Travel arrangements

    Parents need to agree how children should travel between each home keeping them safe and complying with current government advice.

    1. How to spend time with the Children

    Parents need to agree on a study routine for the children to follow while they are not at school. Parents should cooperate with study arrangements to make learning at home as easy as possible. If talking is difficult a communication book is often a helpful tool with email and text messaging.

    1. Leisure time

    Parents need to feel comfortable with how children spend time with the other parent. Are they happy for the children to go to the park, take a walk or a trip to the supermarket with supervision?

    1. Working from home

    It may be difficult to work from home with children requiring supervision and care. Parents should respect the commitments of the other parent and be flexible with changes to routine. Parents need to ensure the children’s best interests are paramount at all times.

    1. Social Media, Video Calls and the Internet

    Make use of Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime. Could such calls be more regular and for longer periods? If one parent is missing out on time with the children, agree additional time later in the year or during holiday periods. Make this something for the children to look forward to and plan for.

    1. What if no agreement can be reached?

    a. Contact a family mediator. Mediators are working from home via video link and Skype. Mediators can often assist with contact issues and can resolve this swiftly minimising conflict between parents.

    b. If no agreement can be found a court application for a CAO can be made but this should be seen as a last resort. The courts are working normally, hearings are by video link and Skype.

    The current situation is uncertain and changing day-by-day. Be aware of the children’s physical and emotional needs, and be kind to each other during this uniquely challenging time.

    To discuss any of the matters detailed above or should you need legal advice, please contact Sally Harris or Sally Briggs in the Steeles Law family team who will be happy to help you via email using family@steeleslaw.co.uk or by calling 01603 598000.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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