Covid lockdowns and restrictions on household mixing have caused difficult dilemmas for many families whose children usually move between their parents’ or grandparents’ homes.
Whilst legally, child residence and contact arrangements override the Covid restrictions, many parents have legitimate concerns that contact or residence orders made prior to the pandemic could result in increased exposure to Covid.
With schools currently closed, parents or guardians are having to make childcare decisions that were not foreseen when child residence and contact arrangements were made. Even in the most amicable of child custody arrangements, issues have been arising that require specialist family law advice.
How to vary a Residence or Contact Order during Covid?
A child residence or contact order is an order of Court between that sets out the living arrangements that reflect a child’s best interests. This takes into account where a child lives, who they spend time with, or have contact with. Given the gravity of the Covid pandemic and household mixing restrictions, many parents have felt that existing child arrangement are not in the child or family’s best interests.
However, with courts also restricted and hearing only the most urgent cases, you may be wondering how you can legally vary existing child residence and contact arrangements. The Lord President, the most senior Judge in Scotland, has issued a guidance note for parents and carers. This note covers advice for parents who have made their own contact and residence arrangements, as well as for parents whose children are the subject of court orders in relation to parental rights and responsibilities.
The Court expects anyone caring for children to act sensibly, safely and in line with Scottish and UK Government advice. If both parents agree that current arrangements are not safe or suitable, you can agree between yourselves to alter these arrangements. You should ensure that you record this agreement in writing, e.g by email, or text message sent to each other and acknowledged.
What if we can’t agree on custody and contact?
If you cannot agree, you must think carefully before making any unilateral changes and be aware that you may be challenged in court at a later date. We would strongly advise that you continue to abide by existing agreements while seeking advice from an experienced family lawyer. We can provide advice on your specific circumstances.
Seeking the Right Child Law Expert
Creating, challenging, or changing arrangement’s for children is a complex process at the best of times and you need to ensure you have appropriate advice. At Kee Family Solicitors, we are experts in family law, including child custody. We understand the stress and emotion caused by child custody issues. Consulting with our supportive, experienced solicitors will provide peace of mind, particularly while court hearings are likely to be delayed.
Contact Kee Solicitors today to arrange your free initial consultation.