Family Lawyers Guildford and how Coronavirus affects Parental Contact.
At this unprecedented time we thought, as experienced family lawyers Guildford, we would clear up a few points regarding the current situation regarding parental visititaion through the present lock down situation.
We understand how difficult it can be in usual times to arrange and maintain contact between parents, but with the Government taking the decision to advise everyone to stay at home 'unless absolutely necessary' and for 'essential purposes only' we can empathise with you and the implications on your current childcare and contact arrangements.
The Government has issued guidance on staying at home and away from other people, along with information on social distancing when out in public i.e when shopping etc, however there are exceptions to these rules. On the 24th March The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has advised one of these exceptions covers 'Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person' There is a specific clause attached to this part clarifying the moving children under 18 years of age between the parental homes. Whilst this is considered an exception to the 'stay at home rule' it also makes it perfectly clear that these movements should be limited to only those which are strictly necessary. Therefore it is made clear that any contact arrangements in place for your children, can and most definitely should continue.
Providing both you and the co-parent are well and exhibiting no symptons of the Coronavirus, then continuing with the usual arrangements is to be encouraged, obviously with precautions where necessary. However, if you feel that the current arrangement is not viable, with large amounts of travel between you for instance, then you will need to have a discussion to see what steps may need to be taken to reduce travel between you all. As experienced family lawyers Guildford we can appreciate that emotions may be heightened at this time,especially if you feel a co-parent may be using the situation to prevent contact between you and your child. We can help you to negotiate with your co-parent to put the child's welfare first and foremost and to come to a mutually agreeable resolution in the event there are valid grounds for concern - from either party. We understand that each situation and family circumstance is different and there may be other concerns that may need addressing during this unprecedented period. We also encourage you to ensure that, if there is an arrangement in place that cannot currently be maintained due to the current situation, it is important to facilitate regular contact, either by social media, skype, video call etc between the child and co-parent and even the extended family - your child's welfare should be your number one priority. This will always be viewed as responsible parenting in the eyes of the Court and will stand you in good stead should you need them to make any decisions for you in the future.
The Government advice is to stay at home and self isolate for 14 days should you start showing symptons of Coronavirus. This also extends to everyone else who shares the household with you, so if one of you is presenting symptons then you are all in self isolation for 14 days. If this is the case and the child is in the isolating household, it becomes imperitive that regular contact is maintained through phone calls, video messaging etc, between the co-parent and the child whilst the isolation period is being respected. Once the 14 day isolation period has passed the usual contact arrangement can resume between households.
In the event that the co-parent becomes unwell, you are able to change your usual agreement and have the child to live with you, should you be in a position to do so. You are able to do this even if there is presently a court order in place, as long as you both agree to the temporary change in circumstance. If you do take the child to live with you, then in line with Government guidelines, both you and your child will need to self isololate for 14 days as you have been in contact with someone either presenting with, or suffering from Coronavirus symptons.
You may need to amend your current sitution temporarily and arrange for your child to live with you at this time, especially if your co-parent is a key-worker and will be out more often than usual, or is in a group classed as having a higher risk of catching the Covid-19 virus and you are in a position to either be at, or work from, home, therefore providing necessary childcare where they may be out at work. Again this must be agreed between both co-parents. As expert family lawyers in Guildford we are happy to discuss all options open to you at this time and to ensure that your child's rights are at the forefront of any decisions required to be made.
We understand you may have many more questions pertaining to this situation, but rest assured we are here to help at this most unusual and unprecedented time and will always treat your child as if they are our own. We will always ensure you know of every decision available to you and any possible legal ramifications, before you have to make it.
If you are looking for a lawyer to help with a family lawyers Guildford case, then give us a call us today on 01483 826470 where we can talk you through the process and help put your mind at rest regarding your options.