Coronavirus school closures: Will it impact Child Arrangement Orders?

As the number of cases of Covid-19 continues to rise rapidly across the UK and Ireland, the nation’s schools are preparing to close their doors in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

But what does this mean for Child Arrangements Orders and the children of parents who have separated?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced yesterday (18 March) that from Friday, 20 March, schools will be closing until further notice for all, except the children of key workers. Professions in this category include NHS staff, police, and supermarket delivery drivers, among others.

In the wake of this announcement, many separated parents may now be wondering what the arrangements for their children should be and what their role is in caring for them.

Melanie Bridgen, partner and solicitor in the family law team at Nelsons, discusses how the latest measures will affect child arrangement orders and contact for children of separated families in the coming weeks.

What is a Child Arrangements Order?

A Child Arrangements Order can specify where your child lives and the arrangements of when and where the child will see their other parent who they do not live with, and other specific matters relating to the child’s welfare and well-being.

Child Arrangements Orders are put in place when two adults who have separated cannot agree on the time their child will spend with each of them respectively. In this scenario, the court has the power make the decision on their behalf.

When my child’s school is closed, how will this affect my Child Arrangements Order?

Every Child Arrangements Order is different, and no two cases are the same. If your order requires your child to be collected from and returned to school, you will need to investigate the facts of your order.

Other orders will provide for extra time to be spent during school holidays and, for example, on inset days and bank holidays. However, orders will not provide for the extraordinary circumstances we are currently experiencing as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and so you will need to take this seriously.

Do I need to talk to my solicitor?

Each order will need to be interpreted in accordance with the particular facts. If you are in any doubt as to your legal position and you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, you should immediately take legal advice. The sooner you act the better. At Nelsons, we have a highly specialised team of expert family law solicitors who can assist you in exactly this situation.

For more information on child arrangement orders, please visit www.nelsonslaw.co.uk/children-law/child-arrangements or call 0800 024 1976. For the latest government advice on coronavirus, please visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public.


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