Covid-19: Finally clarity for separated families

Michael Gove had to apologise this morning on BBC Radio 4 for creating confusion over his comments on Good Morning Britain yesterday regarding divorced/ separated families and their child contact arrangements. He said yesterday that during  “lockdown” children should not be travelling between separated parents. This is wrong.

Today he had to correct this statement and has now confirmed that travel between separated parents was permitted during this period of unprecedented restriction. Be mindful that this is not carte blanche permission for contact to go ahead regardless. The health and wellbeing of the child must remain at the forefront.

Although at the moment, mixing separated families appears to be one of the lock down exceptions – if anyone in the household begins to have symptoms then the (current) guidance of 14 days isolation will still apply and contact with a child will have to be paused (even where there is a court order). It is possible therefore that in this situation both families will be in complete isolation.

CAFCASS who are the advisory service for the family courts have released some really helpful guidance around managing child arrangements during this tricky time.

It will be increasingly important to keep this under review as the number of Covid-19 cases grows and, if isolation is necessary, to think about indirect methods of contact such as facetime, calls, watch parties and emails in the intervening time. CAFCASS stress the need for separated parents to work together to ‘make up’ missed time when things go back to normal.

In summary:

  • Travel between separated parents is allowed
  • If isolation is a possibility due to symptoms, then be open and frank about it with your former partner
  • If there has been isolation or a restriction in contact then make suggestions around when that time can be made up.
  • Look at short term measures such as facetime, skype or calls
  • Work together, don’t add to the tension

Why not discuss this with your former partner now and have a plan in place?