Stacy Williams of our Family team clarifies what effect the latest easing of lockdown restrictions has on meeting family and friends.
The last few months has brought with it a seismic shift in the way we live our day to day lives. Lockdown has stretched from a three week emergency reaction to a national pandemic, into three months of self-isolating and social distancing. For many of us, that means that we have not been able to see our loved ones for many months and normal social interactions seem a distant memory. The Prime Minister announced that people were not to visit their family or friends in March 2020 – but where are we now?
The ‘Support Bubble’
Undoubtedly lockdown restrictions are easing, with changes aimed at reducing isolation for those who live alone. As of Saturday 13 June 2020, single adults living alone – or single parents with children under 18 – can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household. The second household can be of any size. The introduction of the bubble has meant that people in each bubble can visit each other’s homes and go inside, essentially resuming contact as before lockdown.
There are caveats attached to the forming of a support bubble, those being that no one who is shielding is able to form or join a bubble, and if anyone in the bubble develops symptoms of COVID-19 then both households must self-isolate.
Unless you live alone, or with children under 18, then the rules remain the same.
Separated parents and contact
Throughout the national lockdown period there have been concerns regarding children spending time with parents who live in a different household to them. The Government clarified early on that the official guidance is that children under 18 years of age can be moved between households if their parents are separated. This has been the guidance throughout and remains the guidance now. It may not be possible to stick to Court Orders strictly during the COVID-19 lockdown measures, however it is essential that during these uncertain and challenging times that the welfare of the child is the number one consideration of the parents. The overarching message from the Government, CAFCASS and the Court is that contact should be facilitated insofar as possible.
If for any reason contact cannot take place as it was before lockdown, other arrangements should be made so that contact can take place. This can be FaceTime, Skype, or simply changing where contact takes place, i.e. outdoors. As the lockdown continues to ease arrangements for children with separated parents should become easier.
For more information, please visit our website and read the blog ‘COVID-19 update: separated parents and contact with children.'
Following on from the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 June 2020, further changes will be implemented from 04 July 2020, watch this space for further information!
What can we do to help?
Burnetts are still fully operational, while maintaining social distancing, following Government guidance every step of the way.
The Family Courts are operating remotely, inevitably the shift from physical to remote hearings has slowed the Court process down, and nevertheless cases are still forging ahead towards conclusion. We are still able to negotiate financial settlements and child arrangements outside of the court arena, as normal.
If you have a divorce, finance, cohabitation or children matter and need some advice our Family Department is always on hand to help. Please contact our offices on 01228 552222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.