Shared Parenting During Covid-19
4 weeks ago
If you share parenting with someone that lives in a different home you may be worried about how the Coronavirus restrictions will affect this. You may be concerned about whether two households can mix, travel to and from areas of the country in different tiers or your child mixing with any extended family. The Government guidance and the guidance from the Lord President, has provided some explanation on how to navigate shared parenting during COVID-19.
Formal agreements/Court Orders
Following the Lord President’s guidance, if you have a Court Order for contact or a formal agreement, this should be adhered to unless alternative arrangements have been agreed with the other parent or carer. Any alternative arrangements that have been agreed should be recorded in a note, email or text message sent to the other parent or carer. When it comes to travel restrictions, the Government Guidance has stated that travel to allow contact arrangements to continue is an exception to any travel ban or local lockdown. Therefore, travel should not be a reason to prevent contact if it is safe to do so.
If you have an informal agreement for shared parenting, communication is key when it comes to arranging contact during coronavirus. Although, one parent or carer may think contact would still be safe as originally ordered or agreed, the other may still have valid concerns. For example, if one parent is vulnerable or lives with a vulnerable person they may be worried about mixing with another household or, if the parents live far away from each other they may be worried about travelling to another area of the county that is in a different tier. Both parents should listen and understand the other parent’s concerns. Compromises to agreed arrangements should be made where possible.
Possible alternative arrangements
Some compromises that can be suggested when trying to agree on alternative contact are:
- Wearing face coverings,
- having the contact outdoors,
- limiting the contact to only the parent or carer and the child and not any extended family members or,
- agreeing not to use public transport when travelling for the contact.
If there is only one adult your household, or the other parent or carer’s household, then you would be able to become part of each other’s extended household. Agreeing to become part of each other’s extended household may help make each party feel safe about continuing contact arrangements. If an extended household is formed, then everyone in the extended household will be able to act and be treated as if they live in one household. The current Government Guidance makes it clear that if one member of the extended household develops coronavirus symptoms, all members must immediately self-isolate for 14 days if they met the symptomatic person 2 days before and up to 10 days after their symptoms started.
There may be circumstances in which in-person contact cannot take place with one parent or carer, for example if a person is self-isolating, shielding or lives far away. If you are in this situation, where possible video contact should be used instead. This could include Facetime calls, WhatsApp calls, zoom calls or other video chatting programs. It is important for a parent or carer to facilitate whatever contact is possible with the other parent during this time and to allow as little disruption as possible. There should be as much consistency for the children as possible.
When an agreement cannot be reached
If all other attempts to agree alternative arrangements have failed, it has been confirmed in the official guidance that “the courts will consider whether each parent has acted reasonably and sensibly in all of the circumstances of the case and the Government guidance in place at the time.” Therefore, the court will take into consideration any reasonable alternative contact suggestions you have tried to make if you were to change the contact arrangement without agreement from the other parent.
As always, follow the Government guidance and be safe.
If you have any concerns about your shared parenting arrangements during COVID-19, please get in contact with us on 01334 654 081 and we will be happy to help.