How do we navigate co-parenting during a tiered lockdown?
Once again, the country is facing another series of lockdowns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The introduction of the three-tier system brings with it a wave of confusion for many separated parents with regards to how the rules impact arrangements for children who spend time between different households.
At the start of the national lockdown in late March/early April, Michael Gove MP caused a wave of panic whilst being interviewed on Good Morning Britain to discuss the new rules in place. Stating that children could not move between homes to see their parents in terms of care, he advised that children should remain in their present home. Family lawyers across the country came out in droves to quickly point out that Mr Gove’s statement was directly contradictory to the official government guidance which had been issued shortly before.
Embarrassingly, Gove was forced to return to Good Morning Britain that same day to apologise for his mistake and to confirm the correct position, which was:
“Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
What are the current rules?
We are now facing localised lockdowns across the country, rather than another full national lockdown. Regions across the country are now classes as being in one of three tiers, which each tier having different sets of rules and regulations.
Links to the rules for each of the tiers can be found here:
- Tier 1 (Medium)
- Tier 2 (High)
- Tier 3 (Very High)
As everyone will be familiar, each tier sets out what people can and cannot do during the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. whether households can mix, the opening of bars and clubs etc. Importantly for separated parents is that no matter what tier a region has been placed under, the rules are identical when it comes to arrangements for children who spent time living between separated parents’ homes.
The identical wording provides an exception to the rules relating to gatherings which states an exception to the rules exists:
“for the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents”
So in summary, children who live in different households between their separated parents are able to continue to do so, and parents who facilitate this will not be in breach of the current Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3 rules for doing so.
As has been the case for most of the year, this is an ever evolving and changing situation. We are specialists in family law and have a team of solicitors who can help and provide guidance to you in relation to any matters concerning your children. For more information, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on 07725 115219. Alternatively if you are able to call us we are more than happy to discuss matter with you over the telephone on 01625 544650.