Can my child move between homes during lockdown?

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Just as we felt things were starting to feel more ‘normal’, England is to be put into lockdown from 5th November 2020. So what happens to those co-parenting children? Can children move between homes during lockdown?

With stricter rules, and yet schools remaining open, it can be confusing for parents to know what they should do when it comes to children dividing their time between the homes of their separated parents.

What are the rules for children moving between co-parents’ homes?

The current guidance for leaving your home during lockdown is that you mustn’t, with the exception of outdoor exercise, to shop for essentials, or to go to work where required. There are exceptions, however, including those involving children.

Aside from children being able to attend school, children are permitted to move between households for the purpose of childcare, for contact between parents in separate households, to see siblings in different households, and for the purpose of arrangements for prospective adopters.

In summary, this means that for the purposes of contact, children can move between households to enable them to have contact and maintain a relationship with both of their parents.

Can my child visit relatives, other than their parents?

When it comes to contact between children and other relatives, such as grandparents, and even if there is an order in place, the rules are slightly more complex. We would advise contacting a family law solicitor specialising in childcare arrangements to discuss your options.

Are there guidelines co-parents should follow?

The guidance recommends that parents act sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their children. The decision whether a child should move between homes is therefore for the parents to make after making a sensible assessment of the circumstances, which is to include the child’s health, risk of infection and vulnerable individuals.

What happens to child contact if court proceedings are ongoing?

If court proceedings are ongoing, or if a court application is issued, the court will consider whether contact has been withheld unreasonably. The main thing people need to be doing is communicating with one another about their concerns and what would be a good practical solution.

There are many other options for indirect contact, such as Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, to take place even if direct contact cannot take place. Parents will need to think outside the box.

Further information

If you have any questions or concerns about arrangements for children during this time, please do not hesitate to contact our family law solicitors in Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Call us on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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