Covid-19, Children & Co-Parenting
During these new and uncertain times, many parents are naturally worried about contact arrangements and potentially breaching Court orders. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to navigate and steady the ship:
- Routine & Security: maintain your usual routine with the children, which will instill a sense of security. This may include sticking to normal meals, bedtime routines or adding extra comforting factors to the normal day, for example ‘family movie nights’.
- Contact & Self-isolation: unless there is a justified medical or self-isolation reasons (or any future government guidelines about leaving your house), contact with the other parent should continue in the usual way. Any Children Arrangement Orders should be complied with, unless it would put the child or others at risk to do so. This will help your child have a sense of continuity and reassure them that the other parent is safe and well.
- Facilitating Contact: unless you or your child has an underlying health condition or other vulnerability, transporting them form one house to the other parent’s would, based on the current government guidelines be a ‘legitimate journey’.
- Communicate: if you are not able to maintain your child’s routine due to illness or self-isolation, or non-availability of people who ordinarily support your child’s contact, it is essential to communicate clearly with your co-parent or via a third party, should that be safer.
- Be creative: there are many ways to facilitate contact and keeping in touch with the other parent and family members – Skype or FaceTime are both great platforms to keep in touch and can be used to read stories, sing and play together with options to have multiple people talking at the same time. With older children, consider a ‘watch party’ – where you gather online to watch a movie or video in ‘real time’.
- Make up lost time: if Court ordered contact is missed, discuss with your co-parent how to ‘make up’ lost time. It is important to remember any rearranged spending time arrangements should be made with the child’s best interests as the paramount concern, and not used as a source of conflict or tension – especially during this time when your child may already be feeling anxious about the effects of the pandemic.
- Adult conversations: be sure to be extra vigilant and mindful when discussing Court proceedings or disputes with the other parent. This will be particularly relevant in the next few weeks as Court hearings may take place via Skype/teleconferencing. Exposing children to such disputes can result in feelings of confusion, having divided loyalties and may cause emotional harm.
- Social Distancing: if your household is not in self-isolation, it is recommended that you and your child maintain sensible social distancing – avoiding social gatherings and refraining from making ‘play dates’ with other children if they are not in school.
- The two-meter rule: take care to keep a distance of at least two meters from other people. Carry hand sanitiser and tissues and explain to children the importance of practicing good hygiene and washing hands regularly. This can be made fun for children by singing songs whilst washing hands for at least 20 seconds. Both parents should encourage the hand washing routine for themselves and the children.
For further information about Covid-19, please visit the Gov.uk website, the World Health Organisation and CAFCASS websites.
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IBB Solicitors’ family law practice can provide expert advice on all childcare and other family law issues. To contact the family law team please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03456 381381.
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