The current pandemic has sometimes made it difficult for children moving between homes after their parents have separated. This difficulty may well be magnified by the coming Christmas holidays.
For many separating couples, it will be possible to talk through arrangements direct, without the need to involve a third party. Under those circumstances, it could still be helpful to record any arrangements in writing for future reference.
Some couples will be operating under the terms of an existing Court Order. Where a Child Arrangements Order is in place, regulating where a child lives and how much contact they have with the non-resident parent, current guidance states that parents, acting in agreement, are free to decide that arrangements in a Court Order should be temporarily varied. Communication will be key.
If there is no agreement or Court Order in place, a couple might then turn to mediation as a way of resolving difficulties they might have. In mediation, couples can negotiate in a safe environment as mediators are trained to neutralize power imbalances and help focus on the needs of any children concerned.
Unless there are good reasons to the contrary, it is assumed that a child will benefit from seeing both parents and, when that proves impossible face-to-face for any reason, it is worth considering alternatives for indirect contact, which will depend on the age of the child and facilities available.
Finally, separated parents will always need to be open to compromise when making arrangements for their children. Doing so presents its own challenges and, if legal advice is needed, it is better to see a specialist family lawyer at the earliest opportunity in order to reduce conflict, delay and costs.
For further information on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Madeleine Harrington on 01869 222310.
*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation. The information is accurate at date of publication, 25th of November 2020 .