Covid-19 Update: The latest effects of coronavirus on your legal rights and our service.

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Coronavirus legal support hub

Family law advice during Covid

The challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic continue to change on a daily basis. Our family law advice aims to provide you with all the latest news and information on your legal rights and issues to support you through this challenging situation.

 

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Can I have contact with my child?

The short answer is yes. The government updated their guidance on 12 June 2020 for staying alert and staying safe, as well as social distancing. Where parents live in separate homes, children under 18 can move between their homes for contact. However, parents will have to behave sensibly and consider what is safe and make their own best judgment as a parent.

 

Should I send my child for contact?

Whether or not there is a court order in place you still need to behave like a sensible parent.

If anyone in your household is symptomatic, and you are therefore self-isolating, you should not be moving your child between homes for contact with the other parent. In addition, if anyone in the other parent’s household is symptomatic or self-isolating or if your child is poorly with something that might be coronavirus, then you should not be sending your child for contact. If you are not self-isolating and your household does not have symptoms, then contact should continue as normal.

 

Do I have to follow a Court Order?

A court order is meant to be followed; they can be enforced if they are not adhered to. If it is safe, reasonable and practical to do so, you should follow the court order and expect the other parent to do the same.

In light of current events, if there are requirements to adjust the order and if parents are able to agree to changes then you do not have to follow the court order to the letter. If parents are unable to agree about what is safe and sensible you will have to make your own best judgment as a parent.

Communication with the other parent is key. Even if you think it is safe for contact, the other parent might have genuine concerns. They might not be stopping contact just to be difficult or using coronavirus as an excuse. Even if you are sceptical as to whether a parent’s concern is genuine or not try to remember, if this is an excuse it won’t be forever.

A child arrangements order can be enforced by making an application for an enforcement order. Even if an order is proved to have been broken there is a defence of ‘reasonable excuse’. Each case is unique, however not sending a child to contact due to self-isolation is likely to be viewed as reasonable.

Instead of escalating matters try to find other ways to have contact with your children, even if you can’t see them. If a parent is self-isolating, you could suggest that any lost time is made up with a chunk of time once self-isolation comes to an end.

The guidance issued most recently by the President of the Family Division (the most senior family judge in England & Wales) can be found on their latest guidance.

 

I am a victim of domestic abuse, can I still get help?

The recent measures being implemented across the country to tackle Coronavirus (COVID-19) have the potential to cause increased anxiety for those currently suffering or at risk of suffering domestic abuse.

There is increased concern among professionals that those suffering from domestic abuse may now feel even more isolated and unable to seek out help. The situation may be particularly frightening for those people that continue to live under the same roof as their abuser and current restrictions on people leaving their homes may result in an increase in domestic abuse incidents.

Help is out there, and many domestic abuse charities are continuing to operate remotely in order to support those at risk. Whilst Government advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, can leave their home to seek refuge.

 

What should I do if I feel at risk?

If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999. The police are alert to the potential for increase in domestic abuse resulting from current restrictions and will respond to emergency calls. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, then call 999 and press 55. This will allow the call to be transferred to the relevant police force in your area who will be able to respond without you having to speak.

It may be possible to secure protective orders through the family court. A Non-Molestation Order can be obtained to protect you from further abuse, and it may also be possible to secure an Occupation Order requiring your abuser to leave the family home. The courts remain open and able to make these orders to protect those at risk of domestic abuse.

 

GET LEGAL ADVICE AND SUPPORT

Contact our legal experts

At Tozers our specialist solicitors have the experience and expertise you need. With legal experts working in specialist fields across commercial, personal and specialist sectors. Call us now on 01392 207 020 or contact us online