Everyone must stay up to date with government “Stay at Home” guidance. It is understandable that in these circumstances you may feel anxious about allowing your child to move between households but, if you have child contact arrangements in place, there is an agreement that these should remain the same wherever possible.
Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice has offered advice on a general level as a guide- Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders. The “Stay at home guidance” given on the 23rd of March 2020 gives a caveat of “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
Andrew states “This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.”
A charity called Rights of Women have also provided some information to assist with this including the following to consider:
- If you normally travel by public transport to get to handover, can either you or the other parent drive instead?
- If contact arrangements involve a high frequency of travel between households, is there a different way of arranging contact to reduce the amount of time spent out of the house?
- If you are worried about the other parent not complying with the guidance, have you told them this and sent them information about staying at home, hand washing, etc?
- If you have access to technology, have you explored the different ways in which the child and other parent can communicate with each other?