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Child contact issues/shared residence in lockdown – an update

Published: 2 April 2002

Since I wrote my article last week, Jersey has moved into lockdown and has issued ‘Stay at Home’ instructions.

Over the past week, I have been contacted by a number of parents concerned about the arrangements for their children over this period. Fortunately, most parents are able to discuss the issues thrown up by this unique situation and have come to arrangements that suit their family. For example, where there might be shared residence of a child and one is an essential worker, changes have been made between the parents to allow that parent to still continue to work. Another example is that parents have decided who is the best person to home school the children and again have changed the normal pattern of residence or contact accordingly.

It is clearly the case that where parents can agree between themselves there is no need for any court order to be varied for this period of time and the advice from the court remains that it is far better for parents to work out the day to day arrangements for their children.

However, there are some parents, often where there has been significant conflict between them in the past, who are finding all of this very difficult and stressful. There are a few parents who are using the lockdown as a reason to deny contact. In some cases this has even extended to any form of contact even Skype or Facetime. This is clearly not acceptable.

In cases where one parent is denied from seeing the children by the other parent, there will of course be no option but to refer matters to the court. It is highly likely that the court will take a very dim view of a situation where this happens. No parent should attempt to take advantage of these very difficult times in this way.

A number of difficulties have been encountered by parents who have contact with their children by using the contact centre. The centre is currently closed and therefore it is even more important for children to have remote contact with their parents by Skype or Facetime. At this time where everyone is feeling stressed and worried about their health or their finances, this is a really good way of keeping in contact with children and reassuring them.

All parents need to remember that wherever possible, it is in the best interests of children to keep in contact with both their parents, especially during the lockdown.

Our Family Law team remains fully operational during this time and is contactable via email or phone, walks ins are suspended at this time. Call 632267 or email family@viberts.com for advice on child contact and shared residence issues.

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