29 Apr 2020
Family & Matrimonial
“We have had lots of enquiries since the start of lockdown from separated parents who really don’t know what to do for the best.
“We thought it would be helpful to outline the main issues that have emerged and give our advice on what to do in scenario:
In several cases, one parent has unilaterally decided not to allow the child to spend time at the other parent’s home. If there is no Court Order in place, sorting out the arrangements for the children can be difficult to resolve, particularly without mediation services, which are limited at present.
We’re advising parents to keep the lines of communication open as much as possible and work towards getting a Parenting Plan that works for both parties and that complies with Government requirements. If it really is not possible to reach an agreement through negotiations and compromise, your lawyer can make an application to Court, to set out the arrangements and avoid any further dispute.
With schools in England and Wales looking set to remain closed for the foreseeable future, parents across the country are struggling with the demands of home schooling their children. This is also proving to be a real bone of contention between separated parents at the moment, particularly in those instances where one of the parents is still having to go out to work. Again, we are advising parents to agree a plan between them to give the child structure and routine, so that all parties understand where the children will be at any given time and can plan their work and school work around that.
If a parent has to self-isolate, this will inevitably restrict their ability to spend time with their child so it is even more important that communication is maintained via Skype, FaceTime, email, text and social media.
The lockdown has made things particularly difficult for families where the separated parents live in different countries. If one parent wishes to remove a child under the age of 16 from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the other parent needs to give their permission if they have Parental Responsibility. Ensuring both parents have Parental Responsibility is particularly important in the current climate to ensure both parents can input into any decisions around the child’s health or education.
If a parent is paying child maintenance and their income is reduced as a consequence of Covid-19, they should use the Child Maintenance Calculator or seek legal advice to work out whether a reduced payment can be made and approach the Child Maintenance Service to request an emergency reassessment.
Harding Evans is one of Wales’ top 10 law firms and has a specialist team of matrimonial and family lawyers. If you would like to speak to one of the team, please give us a call on 01633 760678. Although our offices are currently closed, we are still operating very effectively and can answer any queries you may have, quickly and in confidence.
Harding Evans is a trading name of Harding Evans LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England & Wales (registered number: OC311802), authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 419663).