Contact and Coronavirus

What do you do about contact and Coronavirus?

The outbreak of Coronavirus across the UK is going to cause problems for contact. I’ve got no doubt about it. All the signs are there. People are changing their plans, panic buying and feeling they don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about day to day stuff.

If you’re a separated parent – and chances are you are if you’re reading this – you’ve got stuff like court orders for your children to deal with, limited communication with your ex partner and a potentially volatile situation that could get worse.

Contact and Coronavirus – how do you balance these?

This is the wrong question. The correct one is `What is in the best interests of the children’. And understanding that this in the eye of the beholder – or in the eye of the court if you’re involved in family law proceedings – means that a disagreement with your ex about how you and your children coming down with can lead to….trouble.

But back to the best interests of the child. At the moment current government advice is basically to wash your hands and do what you can to avoid getting infected. Your child travelling back and forth between you and your ex partner means that if the infection continues to spread you’ll pass it to each other. This in itself should be a good reason to ensure communication between your ex partner is clear, open and honest.

Working together in the best interests of your child and stopping the epidemic is a good thing, right kids?

If you or our child becomes infected

The moment you or your child becomes infected your child should stay where they are – regardless of the contact pattern, the order or anything else. Self-isolation is a thing – and if one person in your household has it, there is an increased risk that others in your home will do too. Follow government advice and call 111 or speak to your doctor (phone…don’t visit).

And let your ex partner know.

Court orders are to be followed. But the court is clear – sometime things…happen. This is one of them. Contact your ex. Explain the situation. Suggest that your child stay where they are until it is clear whether Coronvirus infection has been confirmed or not.

Suggest your child stay where they are regardless of the court order. Regardless of who is the primary carer. Regardless of plans. Regardless of anything else.

Contact and CoronavirusA difficult ex – how do you deal with contact and Coronvirus?

But what to do if the ex insists the order is followed? That’s the tricky one. From a medical, ethical and legal perspective? With my legal head on? Document what is happening – when people have got sick, etc. What advice you’re given. And worry about the consequences afterwards.

If I seem vague, or if the advice seems a bit `how long is a piece of string’ that’s because this is often the nature of the court…and the fact we’re in an unprecedented situation means things are up for debate (which hopefully won’t be in court).

tl:DR

Follow government advice. Act in the best interests of the child. Don’t use this as an excuse to extend or prevent contact. Communicate with your ex.

It’s as simple as this. And no…there are no guarantees here.

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