On Monday 23rd March 2020, the Government made an unprecedented decision to lockdown the UK from no essential work; and imposed additional measures such as limiting gatherings and no cross-door contact.
Many families who co-parent children are now left perplexed, wondering how this will affect existing contact arrangements and in what capacity this can continue under these restrictions.
In short, yes, contact arrangements can be continued.
Children under the age of 18 with parents living in different homes can continue to travel between these, providing that no one in either household shows any signs of illness. If they do they will be required to stop contact and self-isolate in line with NHS advice.
We must highlight that Sir Andrew Macfarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court, provided guidance which clarifies that, while children could be moved between parents' homes, it does not mean all children must keep travelling for contact visits.
It says: "Even if some parents think it is safe for contact to take place, it might be entirely reasonable for the other parent to be genuinely worried about this."
Parents are able to "exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe", even if the other parent does not agree, the guidance says, if one parent is worried that moving their child would be going against public health advice.
We would advise clients to be understanding during these unsettling times and that you please read the official guidance here.
Our family team are still on hand and working remotely and will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have during this time.
We will continue to monitor the changing situation and provide legal updates wherever possible. Please contact our team by telephone on 0191 384 2441.