Advice For Separated Parents Facing Contact Issues

Hannah Porter from The Family Lawyer Company explained how the Covid-19 virus could cause difficulties for separated parents and contact with their children.

At times where the Government is advising that people should be practising social distancing, this will be causing many difficulties for separated parents, especially with blended families. Trying to juggle seeing your own children and your new partner’s children who have also been in contact with others, can be a difficult situation – one I am myself currently experiencing.

Associate Solicitor Hannah and the team at The Family Law Company made a list of practical suggestions to help clients and others experiencing contact issues at this difficult time.

  • Communicate regularly and keep communication civil. People are scared and frustrated with this global crisis but when communicating remember the priority is your children and ensuring they feel safe, loved and able to maintain a good relationship with you both.
  • If both yourself and the non-resident parent are not displaying coronavirus symptoms, allowing the children to have contact with the non-resident parent is reasonable, but both yourself and the non-resident parent should be socially distancing from everybody else to avoid any spread of the virus.
  • If it is at all possible to do so, have a conversation with the non-resident parent about how you are going to manage this time and what you will do if one of you becomes ill. Discuss ground rules you plan to set together for the benefit of the children to act in a way that conforms with government guidelines around coronavirus.
  • If the children are living with you and the non-resident parent has Coronavirus symptoms, contact should not happen. Not allowing contact in this case is unlikely to be seen by the court as a breach of an existing court order.
  • If you can, avoid taking the children on public transport to see the non-resident parent but take them by car. When conducting the handover, remain two metres from the non-resident parent and allow your children to walk over to them.
  • If you are concerned about any of the Coronavirus symptoms in yourself, children should not go to the non-resident parent in case they are carrying the virus from you. Again, this is unlikely to be seen by the court of a breach of any order regarding contact.
  • If for any reason physical contact cannot take place between the children and non-resident parent, use other methods to ensure the children maintain their relationship with the non-resident parent.

Hannah also added:

“If you have a legitimate concern that these will be compromised by physical contact, you should try to arrange indirect contact via an app like Skype or Facetime – it’s not ideal but it may be the safest option.”

The current worldwide situation is highlighting and exaggerating the issues family law clients face, from who the children should remain with during the outbreak to those considering separating but are now isolated in the family home, a particularly dangerous issue if there is domestic abuse involved.

Are you remaining open, albeit remotely, for clients to seek advice on these issues? Let us know how you are helping your clients and any advice you would give in these unprecedented times.

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