24th March 2020, 2:49 pm

The new Covid-19 lockdown advice concerning separated families should not be used to prevent a child from having contact with another parent, says family law specialist Chris Longbottom.

Chris, partner at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, says: “To do so would not, in my view, be in the best long-term interests of the child.

“There may be good reasons for both parents to agree to cease, or perhaps alter arrangements to remove risks, for the foreseeable future, but hopefully this is short term.

“Where parents are at odds as to what they believe is best for the welfare of the child – then they should take expert mediation advice.

“This can be done remotely, or if absolutely necessary and in real urgency, seek court intervention remotely, but how to proceed will depend on individual circumstances.”

Earlier today, Michael Gove was forced to clarify an earlier statement that children should stay in the house they are currently in and not travel between households. But later clarified that the government recognised this may be necessary when children, who are under 18, move between separated parents.

Chris, a member of Resolution who promote a constructive approach to family issues that considers the needs of the whole family, said for many families it would be an ‘incredibly difficult time’.

“Parents are permitted to move children between homes where they are separated and where those were the usual arrangements,” he added.

“However, there will still be issues. Each case is different and parents need to consider their own circumstances such as:

  • Whether they are key workers; where a home has a vulnerable person present
  • Or somewhere they are already isolating due to symptoms being present in the home

Where public transport is relied upon, it is disrupted and may not simply be feasible at this time. 

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