The government has helpfully announced that the facilitation of a child moving between households is one of the exemptions to when individuals are permitted to leave their home. However, the rules about self-isolation still apply. Therefore, if the child is in a household that needs to self-isolate, careful consideration must be given by both parents as to whether that child should remain in the self-isolated household for the 14-day period.
These are very uncertain times. We cannot advise clients to breach the terms of a court order that sets out the arrangements for children. However, in our view, it is likely that a parent will be able to successfully defend an enforcement application should the court order be breached for a good reason as a result of COVID-19. If enforcement proceedings are brought, the court will consider whether the parent that prevented compliance with the court order acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the government advice in place at the time. In short, it will be a breach of a court order for a parent to use the current crisis as an excuse to prevent contact from going ahead without good reason. The court would also expect the parent with whom the child is with to promote contact in other forms, for example, Skype or FaceTime.
Cafcass (the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) has published some helpful guidance for parents at this time, which can be found here.
It is important now more than ever before that parents adopt a sensible, pragmatic and constructive approach to the arrangements for their children. It is unlikely that the courts will be able to deal with matters very quickly and therefore consideration needs to be given to alternative methods to resolve any disputes. All of the members of Nockolds’ Family Team promote a conciliatory and constructive approach to the arrangements for children wherever possible.
If you would like advice in relation to the arrangements for your children at this difficult time, please contact our Family Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.