We have been living with this new “normal” for many weeks now and these remain very difficult times, with many parents still concerned about the impact on contact, where parents are divorced or separated. The safety and wellbeing of the children must be paramount, and the continuing government guidance must be followed.
It is for the parents to act in a sensible and child focused manner. If there are disputes, then the parents behaviour in this lockdown period will be examined by the courts once they become involved and if considered unreasonable there may be consequences. Each case will be very fact specific and just withholding contact because of one party being a key worker or continuing to work will, in itself, not automatically be reasonable. If there is a way in which contact can be adapted to take place in a safe way, then this should be done. Various arrangements for indirect contact can be put in place including activities over Facetime or Zoom.
If all else fails, then there is still the option of involving the court although there will inevitable delays. It is likely that any hearing will be dealt with remotely which is not always ideal. Other means of dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration may, in these times, become more relevant.
Our experienced Family lawyers are here to help. If you have any questions about contact during these troubling times, please call or email Katy Osborne, Liz Whittle, Clare Marion or Emily Prince direct.