Tips for Lockdown for Separated Families
27 March 2020 by Aimee Edwards
The UK Government has recently announced restrictive lockdown measures in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. These circumstances, although for now our ‘new normal’, will not continue indefinitely, but it is likely that things will not return to “previous normal” quickly.
If you are going through a divorce or separation at present and you are trying to manage co-parenting and child arrangements in these unusual times, we have put together several tips which might assist you.
- Communication is important. Lots of individuals are worried about Coronavirus and this is entirely reasonable. If your co-parent is more anxious than you are about the situation, it is important to be understanding.
- Recent guidance from the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice, Sir Andrew McFarlane stated that whilst children under the age of 18 can be moved between the parent’s homes, it does not necessarily mean that children must be moved between homes. Parents should discuss their worries and reach a practical solution together about when, and if, the children are going to visit both households. Parents must consider the circumstances such as a child’s present health, the risk of infection, and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in each household.
- Children are now home from school and likely to be asking many different questions about the Coronavirus. Stick to the facts and try to explain everything to them in a simple language.
- Try to present a united front as parents when explaining the virus and the new government rules to children and let children know that they can come and talk to you about their worries.
- It is important to encourage children to continue to build relationships with family members. We are lucky to have technologies to help us keep in contact remotely such as FaceTime, Skype, Social Media, and Instant Messaging. We should teach children how to be safe when using the internet and supervision is necessary, but also help and promote your children to keep in contact with family members by taking advantage of these resources.
- Be healthy and comply with all the Government guidelines, whether it is observing social distancing guidelines or self-isolation as well as fulfilling the requirements and guidelines for washing and cleaning.
- Be mindful and try to maintain a calm attitude to your children. Your belief that everything will eventually return to normal in time will help them to feel calmer about this uncertain situation. Try not to convey anxiety and panic.
- There is no doubt that the current situation will pose an economic hardship and lead to loss of earnings for many parents affecting those paying, and those receiving, child maintenance. The child maintenance service (CMS) have jurisdiction when it comes to child maintenance. The CMS can adjust child maintenance payments for any paying parent whose income has changed by 25% as a result of Coronavirus, or any other reason.
- Before a paying parent makes any changes to the amount of child maintenance they pay, they should speak to the receiving parent and the CMS.
- You can contact the CMS by registering or logging into your self-service account online or by calling them on 0800 171 2345 if you are in Great Britain or on 0800 232 1956 if you are in Northern Ireland.
- Homeschooling can seem daunting at first but your child’s school will be providing you with resources to use. If you are finding it difficult, lots of teachers will be working from home and might be able to provide support remotely. Sharing information between parents who are in the same situation is another great way to provide support for each other and hopefully ease the pressures of homeschooling. Structure is also important, so maybe set a timetable for your day so you all know what you are doing.
- There are a broad range of resources to assist homeschool and keep children busy. Many of these resources are now available for free in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. If you are in doubt about which resources are suitable for your child’s ability you should contact your school. Here are a few examples to get you started: Joe Wicks uploads daily live P.E lessons on to his YouTube channel; local libraries often have online resources which are easy to access; BBC Bitesize offers online activities and videos; BBC Teach offers live and pre-recorded video lessons; White Rose are offering some free math lessons online; and Phonics Play have made their website free to use during this period.
However difficult and testing this situation may be for individuals, focusing on the best possible outcome for everyone, particularly children, is paramount. We are all in this together.
Our experienced team is available to help support and advise you through the challenges you are experiencing. We will post any updates regarding Covid-19 and the Courts to our Family Law blog. If you would like any further advice on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact our Family Team at 01206 700113 or email [email protected].