Legal Blog

Video mediation to resolve childcare arrangement disputes as a result of COVID-19

| Mar 26, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement on Monday evening represented the biggest curtailment of freedom of movement that we have seen in the United Kingdom in recent times. Several questions emerged for families who share childcare arrangements across two households including concern that children would be stopped from seeing one parent. Subsequent amendments to the government guidance has made clear that at this time this will not be the case.

We have received several questions from our clients in recent days regarding their arrangements, and in such uncertain times there are a few things that many need clarity on.

Have the arrangement for the care of my children been affected by coronavirus outbreak?

This is a completely unprecedented situation, but the government has been clear that children can be moved between parents’ homes in order to allow both parents to see their children. If a child begins to show any symptoms of Coronavirus then both parent and child should take the self-isolation steps as recommended by Public Health England.

It is clear that with the situation changing on a daily basis, children may be feeling vulnerable or anxious and it is essential that they receive the support that they need. This means that both parents should try to communicate positively, be flexible and understanding with each other, and keep their children out of any disagreements relating to their care. Finally, you should always pay attention to current government advice and respond accordingly.

Will my child arrangement hearing still happen?

Currently there are no plans for Courts to close and all Courts are making arrangements for hearings to be able to take place by telephone or video conference.

Solicitors and counsel all continue to operate remotely as well. Your solicitor will keep you updated if there is any change to the situation.

What should I do if my partner tries to stop me from seeing my child?

While this is currently contrary to government advice, unfortunately in uncertain times people may try to alter existing agreements. It is important that you try to keep communication positive and solution-driven. If the situation does not resolve itself then you should speak to your family lawyer who may suggest one of several options, including family mediation.

Why is mediation the right option in this situation?

Mediation is a way for parents to discuss their issues with a trained mediator who will assist them in coming to a constructive and positive outcome. It is  a collaborative approach that is more cost and time effective than going through Court proceeding to resolve any issues. You can read more about Spratt Endicott’s mediation service here.

In response to the requirements of the current national situation, we are now offering our mediation services by video conference.  This allows parents involved in disagreements regarding their childcare arrangement to resolve their disputes without the need for costly court proceedings and in a more collaborative manner.

Next Steps

It is important to remember that we are in unprecedented times and that positive, constructive discussion with your former partner is always the best way to try to resolve any issues. If this breaks down then the quickest and most productive means to pursue at this time is most likely family mediation.

Contact Gemma Davison, trained mediator and Associate in Spratt Endicott’s family law team to arrange learn more about mediation and book an appointment at gdavison@se-law.co.uk.