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Coronavirus: a quick how-to guide for co-parenting

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Coronavirus: a quick how-to guide for co-parenting

We have been looking at some frequently asked questions and one that appears a few times is co-parenting. It’s fair to say that co-parenting effectively, following the breakdown of a relationship can be difficult at the best of times. These are not the “best of times” but it has never been more important for us to set a good example to our children. They are watching us and how we deal with this crisis and learning how to respond to stress and uncertainty.

So what can we do as parents to manage co-parenting issues at this time for the benefit of our children? Some of the common concerns are answered below. 

What happens if I need to self-isolate and quarantine with my child?

Current advice is that if you are experiencing a high temperature, a persistent cough or trouble breathing to self isolate for 7 days. If you are in the same household as someone experiencing those symptoms then you must self isolate for a minimum of 14 days. That means you do not go out and the usual arrangements for the children will be effectively suspended for this period.

If you are not able to continue the usual routine due to illness or self isolation, make sure  you communicate this openly and honestly with the other parent and keep them up to date.

Be prepared to think creatively as to how to maintain a connection between the children and their other parent. Regular skype or facetime can be a great way to stay in touch. Maybe you can use it to play games or read to each other. If you are not sure how to set it up, chances are that older children in particular have already worked it out.  

What if either I or my child are vulnerable and therefore want to self-isolate?

Unless there are justified medical/self-isolation issues, future government guidance or mandates associated with leaving the house, the expectation is that the arrangements for the children should continue as normal. 

If there is a child arrangements order in place this should be complied with unless it would place the child or others at risk.

At present there are certain people who are considered at highest risk and are being contacted by NHS England and being told to stay at home for 12 weeks. If you or your child falls within that category then the usual arrangements will need to be suspended during this period.

What happens if contact is at a contact centre?

Unfortunately, due to protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and visitors, it is understood that some contact centres have made the difficult decision to close. To find out whether your contact centre remains open it is recommended that you contact them directly.

If a contact centre is closed, consider what other contact could be safely put in place such as skype or facetime.

What happens if my child gets stuck at the other parent’s home?

Ensure that there are open lines of communication with the other parent. Do what you can to maintain some form of contact between yourself and your child either by skype, facetime or telephone.

Our handover takes place at school and the school is closed. What do we do?

Consider alternative arrangements such as a non vulnerable third party who can assist or for handover to take place in a public place (think car park/ outside of a police station). However, make sure to follow advice as to social distancing and hygiene in order to keep yourself, your children and others safe.

For more tips and information about co-parenting and managing children at this time, Cafcass have produced a handy guide which can be accessed here.

If you need advice or assistance at this time, we remain available to help. Our experienced family lawyers are based across Essex and can offer appointments via telephone, video or in one of our offices. 

I am a family lawyer based in our Colchester office. For more information and advice, please contact me on 01206 217305 or