Happy New Year? Can I still see my child during the third national lockdown?
The third national lockdown is now in place, but what does this mean for separated parents? Can you still see your child during the nationwide lockdown? We explain the rules for separated parents and families.
Boris Johnson urged the country to ‘stay at home’ on Monday as he announced hospital admissions are at their highest peak since April. The Prime Minister ordered primary schools, secondaries and colleges to move to remote teaching for all students except for children of key workers or vulnerable populations. The measures are expected to last until mid-February.
What are the national lockdown rules?
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This is enforceable by law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
The key points are:
- People will only be allowed to leave their house for limited reasons
- The lockdown is expected to stay in place until the middle of February
- Police will have enforcement powers
- All schools will move to remote learning
- Churches can remain open
- Shops will close in all areas
- Those who shield should not go to work
- Playgrounds will remain open
What does lockdown 3.0 mean for separated and divorced parents?
A child moving between 2 parents who live separately does not count as a childcare bubble. This means both you and the other parent can also form a childcare bubble with one other household.
The rules remain unchanged from previous Government guidance, stating that children under 18 can be moved between parents. Although this establishes an exception to the ‘stay at home’ requirement, it does not 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.
How should parents comply with court orders for contact?
The High Court issued national guidance for parents whose children are the subject of Child Arrangement Orders made by the Family Court.
This guidance states that parents, acting in agreement, are free to decide that the arrangements set out in a child arrangements order should be temporarily changed.
In situations where parents disagree, the guidance states that a parent may exercise their parental responsibility and temporarily change the arrangement to one that they consider being safe. But, if the parent making the change is questioned by the other parent in the Family Court, the court will look to see whether each parent acted reasonably and sensibly in the light of the official advice in place at that time, together with any specific evidence relating to the child or family.
If a child does not get to spend time with the other parent as set down in the Child Arrangement Order, the courts will expect alternative arrangements to maintain regular contact, such as video or phone calls.
What happens if a child or co-parent has to self-isolate?
It’s essential to follow the government advice and self-isolate if anyone shows covid symptoms. This may mean having to be separated from your children for 14 days.
Can I still get divorced during the lockdown?
Yes, you can. Court staff and judges are working from home, and most hearings are being done remotely. In most divorce cases, a hearing is not needed. Couples will only have to go to court if the separated couple cannot resolve disputes regarding financial matters or children.
The easiest and quickest way to divorce is to use an online divorce company like Easy Online Divorce. We have direct access to HM Courts and Tribunal Service computer systems and can manage every aspect of your divorce without having to rely on face to face meetings or the post.
Unlike most high street solicitors and online divorce providers, Easy Online Divorce can do everything digitally meaning that you can get a quick divorce even during the lockdown.
Better still our fees are a fraction of what you would pay a traditional high street solicitor. At £169, our Fully Managed Divorce Service takes the stress out of your divorce process as we deal with everything on your behalf. You receive all of the benefits you would typically get from a high street solicitor without the cost.
We draft and file all divorce documents with the courts, and manage communication between the court, your spouse or any opposing solicitors.
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