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My ex-partner won’t let me see my child in lockdown, is that legal?

PUBLISHED: 10:16 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:39 23 April 2020

Juliet Harvey, legal director of East Anglian law firm Birketts, sheds some light on the legalities of co-parenting in lockdown. Picture: Birketts/Getty Images

Juliet Harvey, legal director of East Anglian law firm Birketts, sheds some light on the legalities of co-parenting in lockdown. Picture: Birketts/Getty Images

Birketts/Getty Images

The lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak has not only caused huge disruption to our economy and work life, but also our families. 
For separated parents social distancing has presented some problems.

Here, Juliet Harvey, legal director of East Anglian law firm Birketts, sheds some light on the legalities of the issue.

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- Am I still allowed to co-parent during lockdown?

The vast majority of separated parents agree the practical arrangements of co-parenting without a court order.

The fact that the country is in lockdown does not suspend one parent’s rights or obligations.

In practice, co-parenting may now be a challenge due to how we are told to conduct ourselves during lockdown.

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It is important that you try to work together as parents to ensure that the children have a relationship with each of you.

You do not stop being a parent as a result of lockdown, so co-parenting should continue, even if the co-parenting arrangement has to flex and adapt to the new ‘Stay At Home’ rules.

Get involved in your child’s day to day life and routine - offer to take on some of the home schooling - you may be able to assist with lessons via video - alternatively, you could read your child a bedtime story over the phone or via a video call.

- My ex-partner is not letting me see my child due to lockdown, is that legal?

If one household is self-isolating or shielding there may be health related reasons why children cannot move from one parent’s house to the other.

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Once the period of self-isolation or shielding is over it would be usual to expect arrangements to go back to ‘normal’ Guidance has been issued which makes it clear that ‘where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes’.

Ultimately, as parents, you will be expected to work together and agree arrangements. If there has to be a temporary suspension of contact, then alternative arrangements should be suggested, such as Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp video calls etc. and a plan worked up for how any missed time can be made up once lockdown restrictions are lifted.


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