The government’s stark message to “stay at home” has undoubtedly caused much confusion and concern for parents in shared childcare arrangements with their ex-spouses/partners. The government has provided some guidance to parents who find themselves in this predicament and has confirmed that as of 24 March 2020 where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.

The President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice issued formal guidance on this on 24 March “Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders” which can be found below. 

Of note, this guidance explains that whilst an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement has been granted for children under 18; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. “The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other.” 

The key message appears to be that where restrictions due to coronavirus cause “the letter of a court order to be varied, the spirit of the order should nevertheless be delivered by making safe alternative arrangements for the child.”

Collyer Bristow have also considered the challenges of Co-parenting and Coronavirus and have produced “10 top tips for co-parenting in these unprecedented and challenging times.”  The article can be accessed here: https://collyerbristow.com/shorter-reads/the-challenge-of-co-parenting-and-coronavirus/