Divorce rates expected to spike during coronavirus lockdown
Last month, government guidelines were announced to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK. As of the 23 March, the public has been told to stay at home apart from necessary food shopping, one form of exercise a day, and work for those listed as ‘key workers’. Part of the restrictions also included not meeting family members who do not share your home.
Understandably, this has raised many questions for separated families and how they are to continue with their current childcare arrangements. If your child spends time between two houses, it is important to know what you can and cannot do at this time.
In this guide, we will cover:
At The McKinstry Company, our family law team remain available for any concerns you may have at this time. For expert advice tailored to your circumstances, get in touch with one of our specialist family lawyers on 01292 281711.
During the current lockdown, parents can continue to share custody of their children according to the guidance. Travelling between parents’ homes has been classed as essential travel at this time, allowing parents to drop and collect their child without going against government restrictions. It’s important to note the courts have reiterated this does not mean you have to move the child between homes should you not think it is safe to do so.
If you currently have a Child Residence or Contact Order with your ex-partner, the terms of the order still hold and should be followed as closely (and safely) as possible at this time. The only reason this should change is where it poses a risk to the child or another person.
At this time, parents should try to communicate openly and honestly with one another if they are concerned about the situation, but always putting the child’s interests and health first.
Following government guidelines, those who do not live in the same household should not come within a 2-metre distance of one another. As such, parents who live in different homes need to follow these rules when collecting and dropping off children. You should drop the child at the house of your ex-partner or in an open space. You should have no physical contact with anyone from another household, and therefore should not walk the child inside the other parent’s house.
While childcare workers are classed as key workers, this only applies if they care for the children of key workers or vulnerable children. This means that if you have not been listed as someone in a job where your role is essential to the current pandemic, you should not have a childminder at your house.
The government has asked schools and other childcare providers to remain open for children of key workers. If you are worried about sending your child to nursery or school, the government guidance is that anyone without symptoms, or not thought to be vulnerable to the virus, can look after the child.
Many parents would typically rely on grandparents as their primary support for childcare. However, with the ‘high-risk’ category including the elderly, this means grandparents are unable to care for children.
Ultimately, the best thing that can happen is that parents set up an agreement about who is best equipped to look after the child during working hours.
If you start to show symptoms and therefore need to self-isolate, this will affect your current childcare arrangements in place. If the child lives with you and you have to isolate, then following government advice, the entire household would need to isolate. As difficult as this may be for the child, it is important to stick with the measures in place to ensure everyone can stay safe.
A clear advantage in today’s day and age is that there are unlimited means of contacting family members. Trying to organise a video call with the other parent can help the child have face-to-face interaction if your household is self-isolating. Losing contact is the last thing that is wanted at this time, so encouraging such communication means the child can continue to get valued time with each parent.
Any household with high-risk people – including elderly or those with health conditions – should carefully consider what to do about child arrangements at this time. Ensuring you are taking all steps to maintain your child’s health as well as those surrounding the child is vital, and you should therefore use your judgement on whether your existing arrangement is appropriate.
This is a stressful and challenging time for everyone, and nobody wants to feel like they are helpless when it comes to their child. If the other parent is refusing to share custody, there should be a clear and valid reason – whether it is for medical purposes or self-isolation. However, if this is not the case, then any existing arrangements should be followed, or at least virtual time with your child should be encouraged.
If your ex-spouse stops both physical and virtual contact, you may be able to make an application to the court. If you are considering enforcing an existing Child Residence or Contact Order or looking to make an application for a new Child Residence or Contact Order, get in touch with our specialist family team for clear and sympathetic legal advice about what you can do at this time.
Family issues are never easy, but under the current restrictions, they can feel even more complex. Child Residence and Contact Orders are put in place to keep a child in contact with each parent, to encourage normality to their daily routine. If you are concerned your ex-spouse is not following through with your existing arrangements at this time without reason, speak with one of our family lawyers today on 01292 281711 or by completing the online enquiry form.
This guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for general information purposes only. If you require specific legal advice, you should contact one of our lawyers who can advise you based on your own circumstances.
Please note this information is accurate as of 07/05/2020 and is subject to change as official guidance is adapted to reflect the implications of the virus.
All very prompt, efficient, clear, friendly and personable. Not overwhelming with legal jargon. Many thanks for making the process of setting up a will so straightforward.Mrs D, Troon
We required our Wills to be amended and that was done without any problems whatsoever.Mrs F, Ayr
Very business-like and helpfulMr M, Ayr
I was very impressed with the professionalism shown by all members of staff I had any dealing with. All calls and emails were relevant to the sale of my flat. All questions I had were dealt with at the time. For any further legal matters I will certainly be using The McKinstry CompanyMr H, Ayr
Excellent service most happy with attentiveness and customer service.Mr F, Condorrat
Nat & Libby efficiently dealt with every question I had.Mrs K, Ayr
Kirsty understood our weird schedule when we were often 8 hours behind UK time, and simplified things for us by liaising via email. She was extremely approachable and dependable. In Kirsty’s absence, Jodie and Nathaniel would step in and communicate with us, and were very helpful too.Mrs N, Ayr
Great service and always on hand to answer our questions. Prompt and efficient response.Mr H, Ferniegair
Questions and communication were answered promptlyMr W, Sinclairston
Speaking from my own personal experience I was perfectly happy with the service I received. Everything was done to my satisfaction.Mrs I, Largs
Very efficient, timely and very mannerly on the phoneMr McN, Mauchline
The service was superb. Kirsty and team were extremely helpful.Mr and Mrs R, Ayr
First class service from start till finish. Always there to give help and advice.Mr R, Ayr
Great service and advice from a good professional company.Mr R, Kilmarnock
Excellent, very friendly and professional. I will be using you for all my property transactions in the future!Mrs S, Godstone
My case was handled sensitively and smoothly.Mr N, Ayr
Everyone concerned in the sale of our property was very efficient and kept us up to date with all happenings.D Ferguy, Cookstown
Great service. Would recommend you to others.Mr S, Kirkmichael
Communication was always available when required. Made me feel confident throughout the process.Mr L, Ayr
Always replied or phoned back when I needed my questions answered.Miss McF, Patna
A very prompt and friendly service, a pleasure to deal with.Mr R, Aberdeen
Robert was very supportive.M Carruthers, Kilmarnock.
Great, Rebecca was very pleasant to deal with and went out of her way to help with our caseS Everett, Kilbarchan
The solicitor / paralegal I was dealing with was very professional and performed to a high standard. I was very impressed.B Ferguson, Methil
Local firm, word of mouth good reports.K Rooney, Glasgow
All queries were dealt with in a prompt and professional manner and I was kept informed of progress as events developed. Thank you very much for making a difficult situation much easier to deal with.Mrs McG, Ayr
Communication via telephone and email was regular, prompt and comprehensive. All queries and questions were answered with no delays or problems. My experience with the McKinstry Company was pleasant and smooth.Mr McK, Ayr
My family and I received excellent service from everyone with whom we had contact. The service was of the highest standard and, as I have in the past, I will continue to recommend the company to anyone seeking legal assistance.Mrs S, Ayr
All emails and calls were dealt with promptly. Very impressed. Very very pleased with service.Mr and Mrs H, Hull
I enjoy the friendly atmosphere. Very professional.Mrs A, Ayr
Mr Honeyman was very professional and knowledgeable which made us feel reassured. Very happy with the service and if I needed a solicitor again I would get in touch.Mr B, Ardrossan
Prompt quick efficient communication.Mrs K, Cumnock
Ease of making appointments and timescale for completion of business all good.Mr & Mrs T, Maybole
Gave reassurance and comfort at a stressful time. I felt ten times better after our first meeting and support provided ultimately exceeded my desired outcome.Mr N, Saltcoats
The supportive way that the advice was provided along with the willingness to fit appointments in with our requirementsMr R, Ayr
The whole process was handled with upmost professionalism throughout.Mr McN, Kilwinning