How to handle issues with child contact as the UK emerges from lockdown

During June, the Government has started the transition of returning the UK to some form of normality through ease in the lockdown rules, with many children returning to schools and families and friends being given the green light to meet in groups of up to six, provided social distancing guidelines are adhered to.

As families enter the ‘new normal’ there remains significant confusion for many on how child contact could continue against the background of restrictions. In this blog, we are going to address some of the main issues facing families when it comes to child contact arrangements.

Beginning contact?

The majority of families continued life as normal throughout the lockdown, with rules requiring people to stay at home not specifically applying to children travelling between different households.

However, many families chose to limit or stop contact during the lockdown period to protect children or other members of the household involved who were shielding. The key decision for these people now will be deciding when and how this contact resumes.

Provided that Government guidelines are followed then contact can start up again in line with your court order/agreement. However, it may be more beneficial for the child to experience a smooth transition to lessen the impact big changes can have.

The child will have been part of a contact arrangement for some time, but they may still benefit from a brief transition period back to the usual arrangement, as this experience has been a confusing time.

What if we fail to reach an agreement over the children?

Just as parents were encouraged to resolve disputes within the lockdown period between themselves, this will continue to be the case now the lockdown has eased.

However, Mediation should be the first port of call for parents who fail to come to an agreement regarding their children.

What is the default position regarding children returning to school?

Currently, the schooling arrangements should be agreed between everyone with parental responsibility for a child. Children can be sent back if parents desire.

If an agreement cannot be reached, parents should try to settle the dispute outside court, for example through solicitors or mediation.

Parents are encouraged to consider the factors that the court would take into account when considering what is in the best interest of the child. These include health, home environment and the continuity of education.

Are maintenance payments still required if no contact is taking place?

Maintenance payments vary depending on the number of overnight stays so it may be reduced while the contact is not taking place. However, it remains payable at the minimum level in any event, which is based on the paying parent’s income.

Contact our mediation expert today to find out how we can help your family