The outbreak of Covid-19 is an unprecedented public health emergency. With the government continuously implementing new measures and restrictions to protect the public from the virus, it can be a concerning time for those whose child or children are subject to a Child Arrangements Order (CAO).
Our family law caseworker Robert Weighill answers some of the most pressing questions asked concerning CAO during these unprecedented times.
Q1: My child is the subject of a CAO. How can I stick to it given the current circumstances?
On 23 March the government issued its ‘Rules on Staying at Home and Away from Others’ which require people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes, and this includes seeing children. Alongside these rules, guidance was issued regarding CAO:
“Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
It is the responsibility of each parent of the child in these difficult times to ensure the child’s welfare is of primary consideration.
Q2: Can we make a temporary variation to the CAO if we are all in agreement?
Yes. You should make a record of any such change either in a note, email or text sent to each other.
Q3: I am concerned about abiding within the CAO. Will it put my child and others at risk?
You can exercise your parental responsibility. You may temporarily vary the arrangement to one that protects your child’s welfare and others in line with current public health guidance. However, the Family Court has stressed it will likely look to see in the given circumstances how each parent acted.
Q4: The Coronavirus has limited the time I spend with my child. What can I do?
It is expected an alternative measure for contacting your child should be put in place by the parents. The essence of the order should still be delivered. Using alternatives such as video messaging, online messaging or telephone calls is encouraged.
Q5: My co-parent is a key-worker. What can we do?
If you or your co-parent fall under this category the government is encouraging schools to remain open for your children. However, with the daily risk increasing, you may want to arrange for your child to temporarily stay with whoever is largely at home.
Q6: CAO sets out arrangements for term time and holiday time. Now schools are closed how can I abide this?
With schools now operating online or by offering assistance with online home-schooling, an attempt to meet the order can be agreed between you and your co-partner. Consider modelling a school day that was agreed by the court with your child being at the kitchen table for example, rather than in school.
How Duncan Lewis Solicitors can help
Despite no face-to-face appointments being available, we are able to contact clients through other methods including telephone appointments and video conferences. These measures are currently in place with the court service too, therefore if there are any urgent or upcoming hearings, we may be able to assist. We can assist with court hearings through any methods necessary.
Author Robert Weighill is a caseworker in the family department, based in our Manchester office where he works under the supervision of Meena Kumari. Our family solicitors are still available to assist new and existing clients on a range of matters through our extensive remote access options.
Contact Robert on 02072752798 or at RobertW@duncanlewis.com.
Contact Meena on 01924664548 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Duncan Lewis Family and Child Care Department
Duncan Lewis family and child care team continues to be recognised by Legal 500 for our large team which ‘covers a broad range of family cases and excels in children’s cases’. They applaud the department for its notable expertise in representing domestic abuse victims under legal aid and mediation, as well as its handling of public law and cross-border issues concerning children, and the team’s niche Sharia law expertise.
The team has extensive expertise representing vulnerable clients under legal aid, supporting families in care proceedings. Guardians appoint the team to represent children in culturally complex care cases given the firm’s diverse ethnic workforce and experience dealing with vulnerable clients in physical and emotional abuse, drug or alcohol misuse, neglect, factitious illness, rare illness and non-accidental injury matters.
For expert advice on any family and child care matter, please call 0333 772 0409.