Should the child arrangements order be followed?
Regulation 6(2)(j) The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 states that ‘children who do not live in the same household as their parents, or one of their parents, to continue existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children’.
Therefore, children can continue to see both parents during this time if it is safe. It is vital that safety continues to be prioritised and parents should therefore use their discretion to determine whether moving between households is safe for all parties. This can be assessed by considering the current circumstances including the health the parents, the children and any other person living in each household.
Can access to my child be stopped?
In general, an individual with parental responsibility should not be prevented from seeing their child unless there are genuine safeguarding or safety concerns justifying reduced contact. In the first instance parents should aim to make decisions regarding arrangements amongst themselves by considering the safety and wellbeing of the children and other people living in each household.
Therefore, if a parent were considered vulnerable by the NHS due to medical conditions, it may be unreasonable for their child to move between two houses as this could increase the likelihood of infection. In the meantime, communication should be maintained as much as possible between parents and children using alternative methods such as video and telephone calls.
Can a Child Arrangements Order be enforced?
The Courts and Tribunals service is still hearing cases using a telephone conference method, but they are prioritising cases with immediate concerns such as safeguarding issues. The courts encourage parents to come to an agreement about child arrangements during this time by acting sensibly and safety.
Therefore, prior to making an application to enforce a court order it is important to consider the reasons access has been prevented. For example, if access has been stopped because there is a vulnerable person that needs protecting, it would be unlikely that the court would uphold it at this time.
If the court order is being unreasonably breached by one party, you may be able to apply for this to be enforced using the C79 form located on the UK Gov website.