On Thursday 5th November, England will be placed into a second national lockdown. The first lockdown placed a huge strain on many separated families with confusion as to whether or not children could still pass between different households for the purposes of contact.
At the start of the first lockdown, the top Family Court Judge in England issued guidance directly relating to this issue.
The rules are clear in that where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes. Subject to any updating guidance which may come out this week, that still remains true. This exemption to the wider ‘Stay at Home Rules’ does not, however, mean that a child must be moved between homes, though in my experience, the expectation is that they should if it is safe and appropriate to do so after making an overall assessment of the circumstances of that child’s health, the risk of infection and the presence of any vulnerable individuals in the household.
We all have different perceptions of risk and the important thing (if it is appropriate and safe to do so) is to try and communicate with the other parent to discuss this early on. These are exceptional times where children may already be feeling uncertain about the future given the disruptions in their own lives, including their education. If contact can be maintained and it is safe and appropriate to do so, then it should be maintained.
If you need advice about this or any other family arrangements issue, we can offer 60 minute preliminary tailored advice via telephone or video for £150 + vat.