202004.02

Guidance on compliance with Child Arrangement Orders during COVID-19

Guidance on compliance with Child Arrangement Orders during COVID-19

02 April 2020

The expectation at this difficult time is that parents must care for children by acting sensibly and safely when making decisions regarding the arrangements for their child and deciding where and with whom their child spends time.

The guidance which can be summarised below:

  • Parents must abide by the stay at home rules; however, Government guidance was issued alongside the Stay at Home Rules dealing specifically with child contact arrangements. It says:

  • “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
  • This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes.
  • The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.
  • Where parents, acting in agreement, exercise their parental responsibility to conclude that the arrangements set out in a CAO should be temporarily varied they are free to do so. It would be sensible for each parent to record such an agreement in a note, email or text message sent to each other.
  • Where parents do not agree to vary the arrangements set out in a CAO, but one parent is sufficiently concerned that complying with the CAO arrangements would be against current PHE/PHW advice, then that parent may exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement to one that they consider to be safe. The court is likely to look to see whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in the light of the official advice and the Stay at Home Rules in place at that time.
  • Where, either as a result of parental agreement or as a result of one parent on their own varying the arrangements, a child does not get to spend time with the other parent as set down in the CAO, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to be made to establish and maintain regular contact between the child.

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For more information or advice, get in touch with one of our expert Family Law Solicitors in Guildford on 01483 451900.