Now we are into our third period of national lockdown, we thought it would be useful to recap the coronavirus rules as they affect families. Our head of family law David Anstee says there are three key things to remember:
1. Children moving between households of separated parents
Where parents of children do not live together, children can continue to move freely between the homes of both parents without contravening the lockdown rules. However, it is not always as simple as this in practice, especially where the parents may live in different countries or where members of a household may be shielding.
Last March, the President of the Family Division issued guidance to separated parents making clear that children can move between households but that that does not mean they must do so. He advised parents to make a “sensible assessment” of the circumstances, including the child’s health, the risk of infection and the vulnerability of members of both households.
It was also confirmed separately by the Ministry of Justice last October 2020 that:
- A child in quarantine may still move between the houses of their separated parents
- Parents in quarantine or self-isolation may still leave home for handover to the other parent
- Children may still visit or stay with a parent that is self-isolating.
2. Domestic abuse
Household isolation instructions do not apply where there is a need to leave home to escape domestic abuse. It is important to remember that domestic abuse is not limited to physical abuse but also includes, for example, coercive control, emotional, sexual, verbal and financial abuse.
3. Support bubbles
Support and childcare bubbles remain part of the lockdown arrangements. They are likely to be of greater relevance to separated families and are not mutually exclusive, so if you qualify for both you may form two separate bubbles.
Support bubbles allow single adults or single parents of children who are under 18 to form a support bubble with another household.
Childcare bubbles allow families with children under 14 (or vulnerable adults) to form a childcare bubble with another household for informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare that can take place in either or both of the two homes.
Detailed rules apply to these bubbles and it is always important to check and continue to be on your guard.
If you are affected by any of the issues listed above and would appreciate some guidance, please contact David Anstee on 0208 979 1131.