Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders
Here are some practical points to consider.
1. Make use of Zoom, WhatsApp video calls, FaceTime and Skype. Agree that these calls can take place more regularly than may have happened before.
2. Allow time for children to make a video for the parent they may not be able to see as regularly.
3. If children are able to move safely between their respective parents’ homes, agree what is and is not appropriate during their time with the children. For example, are both parents in agreement that it is not appropriate to take the children to the supermarket or to a local park, or is that something both parents would feel comfortable with if appropriate supervision is in place.
4. Agree on what is expected in relation to school work now that the schools are closed. Draw up a daily timetable for schoolwork that each parent will be able to follow taking into account their own work commitments. Most school work is online but if it’s not, and the children are still moving safely between homes, parents need to make sure that the children have the books and resources they need.
5. If one parent is missing out on time with the children, consider agreeing additional holiday time later in the year. Parents need to be as flexible as possible with arrangements.
6. Whatever adaptations and changes are necessary, children will need to feel reassured that their parents love them and will be there for them in whatever way possible. We need to remember that the current situation will be causing most children anxiety and it is therefore even more crucial than ever to minimise parental conflict.
5. If you can’t agree on changes to arrangements, consider an urgent telephone/webcam meeting with a mediator or trusted neutral third party.
Sadly, there are many parents for whom communication is difficult or impossible. If agreement cannot be reached or one parent feels that they are being unfairly excluded, an application can still be made to court. The Court will be dealing with court hearings remotely. However, this is very much a last resort and specialist legal advice should be obtained before making an application either to enforce an existing arrangement or make a new one.
As are many other businesses, we are adjusting our current working practice and procedure due to the Government advice on dealing with the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, which is changing on a daily basis.
At present we have members of staff who are working from home and others that are working within the office but our ultimate goal is to, as far as is possible, offer a ‘business as usual’ service to you and all other clients.
In light of the above we would request that email is used as the primary method of communication wherever possible.
Should our position change due to further advice provided by the Government we will update you accordingly.
We appreciate that we are in a time of uncertainty and unknown, and we want to reassure people that we are here to help you with your legal needs. If you would like to speak to a member of the family department, then call us on 01642 247656 or visit https://www.watsonwoodhouse.co.uk/service/family-law/ for more information. We also have a LIVE CHAT available via our website for clients to contact us online.