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Coronavirus – Implications for Separated Parents

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

On Monday, 23 March 2020, Boris Johnson announced a new set of restrictions in the ongoing effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. Mr Johnson stated that people should only be leaving their home for one of four reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessities
  2. Once a day for exercise
  3. Medical need or providing care
  4. Travelling to or from work (if you can’t work from home)

As a family law practitioner, I found that many separated parents were asking me what this meant for contact arrangements with their children. The government have now clarified the position and stated that:

“Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”

No situation is the same and if a parent has genuine concerns, then parents can agree to vary the usual arrangements. For example, if one parent needs to use public transport to facilitate a handover where one parent has their own vehicle, it may be sensible for the parent with the vehicle to carry out the collection and drop off.

Sir Andrew Macfarlane, President of the Family Division, has issued guidance on the subject. He confirmed that a dim view would be taken of any parent using the situation to unreasonably withhold contact. If handovers are considered unsafe, for example, if one household is self-isolating, family courts will expect parents to temporarily facilitate contact by video chat or phone.


You can stay up to date with the latest government advice through the Wilson Browne Coronavirus Hub.