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With the UK in lockdown, questions have arisen about the extent to which parents are expected to comply with Child Arrangements Orders (a court order setting out the arrangements for where a child is to live and/or when they are to spend time with each of their parents).

The head of the family court has recently provided guidance to parents in these circumstances, which can be summarised as follows:

  • The Government has confirmed that children are permitted to move between two homes, but this does not mean they must be moved. Therefore, parents should continue to comply with the terms of a Child Arrangements Order, unless doing so would put their child at risk.
  • Parents are expected to communicate with one another and jointly assess what is in the best interests of their child, particularly taking into account their child’s health, the risk of infection and the presence of vulnerable people in the household.
  • If both parents agree to vary the terms of a Child Arrangements Order, they should record the changes in writing, such as in an email or text message.
  • If both parents cannot agree to vary a Child Arrangements Order and one parent believes complying with the Order would put their child at risk, that parent can unilaterally change the arrangements to what they consider to be safe. If such actions are challenged by the other parent in court in the future, the court will consider whether each parent acted sensibly and reasonably in light of the Government’s advice.
  • Where a child cannot spend time with one of their parents according to the terms of a Child Arrangements Order because it would be unsafe to do so, parents are expected to facilitate and maintain regular contact using other means, such as Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or telephone.

If you need any further help or advice in respect of how to follow this guidance in your situation, our family team is here to help you.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.