Figuring out childcare details when families are split across two households is complicated and stressful at the best of times, but the current pandemic has made multi-household parenting even more difficult. Many separated parents have found the government guidance on shared care to be unclear, but it’s worth knowing what the law says about splitting childcare between households during lockdown.
The Child’s Best Interests
Broadly speaking, the primary consideration of the law when it comes to matters of childcare is always the child’s best interests. Usually, this means that a child should have access to both parents, unless there is some reason why this is not the case. The law also favours ‘the status quo’, which means keeping things similar to the way they are, provided there are no issues arising from current arrangements.
Childcare During Lockdown
Of course, temporary changes to the law have arisen during lockdown which means that splitting childcare between two houses is not so simple. Early lockdown rules at first did not list childcare as a reason to leave your house, but it was soon clarified that children who spend their time in two households are considered to have two ‘homes’, and therefore they are allowed to move between these two homes, even during lockdown.
Two considerations which must be made before continuing contact are the method of transportation and the presence of any vulnerable people in either household. It is entirely legal to take public transportation to move children between two households if necessary, but parents with access to a car or some other suitable form of transportation should use this instead.
Likewise, if either household is home to someone who is shielding from Covid-19, both parents will need to discuss in detail whether contact should continue or stop temporarily. If contact is stopped, the resident parent must make reasonable efforts to maintain contact via phone or Skype, and to communicate regularly with the non-resident parent.
What if my Child’s Other Parent is Refusing Contact During Lockdown?
If your child’s other parent is refusing contact and you have not agreed to this and you don’t feel there is a reasonable excuse for stopping contact, you can make an emergency application to the court to create a Child Arrangement Order or enforce an existing one.
How Bowsers Solicitors Can Help
If you’re confused about your rights as a parent during lockdown, we are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for legal advice and information about childcare and parenting arrangements during this difficult time.