COVID-19 Alert Level 4- What does it means for Parents with Shared Custody?
We wish to provide some clarity during this unusual period of time for the many families out there which have shared parenting and other care and contact arrangements, including Court Orders in place.
Based on the directive of our Prime Minister that 25 March 2020 we will be at Alert Level 4, which requires people to stay home and places severe travel restrictions upon us, we consider the expectation to be that care arrangements are to continue as usual unless:
1. There is a member within one or both households who is providing essential services and therefore coming into contact with people outside the household it is not prudent for them to continue contact with children who will be moving between households. This contravenes the words and directive of our Prime Minister.
2. The two households involved are separated by such a geographic distance that travel is not appropriate or possible to facilitate contact.
For those who engage in supervised contact or are limited to having contact take place in a public place, unless that contact is supervised by someone who you share a house with then it is unlikely this can continue.
Where contact is unable to occur as usual an alternative means of contact NEEDS to be put in place such as telephone and video calls. We appreciate there may be some instances due to Protection Orders and no available third parties in either household to supervise where this may be more difficult.
When bearing in mind the words of our Prime Minister in conjunction with the underlying Principles of the Care of Children Act it is of the utmost importance that each parent continues to support and encourage the ongoing relationship between the children and the other parent. The preservation of the child’s relationship with both parents is fundamental. This is not an opportunity for one parent to take steps to alienate the other from the child or children. Any parent who acts in a manner contradictory to this principle will in our view be jeopardising their future prospects of success with any proceedings in the Family Court.
Should one parent refuse to continue the normal care and contact arrangements without reasonable excuse, as noted above, steps can be taken to enforce those arrangements.
Should you wish to discuss and gain clarity regarding your individual situation further please contact one of the Family Law team at TODD & WALKER Law.