Please note: This article was originally written at the introduction of the new tier system on 21st October 2020; however, the legal information applying to child contact in Tier 3 areas contained in this article is still correct as of 01/12/20. Due to the ongoing nature of the coronavirus restrictions, guidance is subject to change as, as such, we would always advise you speak to a solicitor for specific advice.
Lancashire has been added to the list of regions categorised as Tier 3 under Boris Johnson’s new three-tier lockdown system.
Other regions under Tier 3 restrictions include Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester. The Tier 3 rules restrict the mixing of households indoors.
Upon hearing the news, a number of separated parents sought clarity as to whether their child or children can continue having contact with the other parent. Particularly in a situation when either both parents live in Lancashire, or one in Lancashire and the other in a different region subject to a different tier, and thus different restrictions.
The confusion seems to have been born of Boris Johnson, perhaps disappointingly, suggesting to the media that the new restrictions could result in no contact.
The law is clear on this point and here it is.
There are a number of exceptions to the restictions preventing the mixing of households indoors.
“for the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents;”
“for the purposes of arrangements for contact between siblings where they do not live in the same household and one or more of them is— (i) a child looked after by a local authority”
“the person concerned is fulfilling a legal obligation or participating in legal proceedings.” (such as when there is a Child Arrangements Order in place).
Parliament also circulated a Briefing Paper on the 15th October 2020 which can be found here.
The paper addresses the following questions:
- Can children move between the homes of separated parents?
- Rules regarding children required to self-isolate
- How should parents comply with a court-orders for contact?
- How are child maintenance payments impacted?
- Can I visit my child in care/residential home?
- My child contact centre is closed: What alternatives are being made?
- Where can I go for help and advice?
Helpfully, the paper clarifies those situations when contact is to be supervised by friends and family members also fall within the exemption.
If you require further clarification or advice our specialist lawyers can provide assistance in relation to disputes relating to child arrangements and the breakdown of relationships. Contact our experienced family team today on 0845 287 0939 or you can contact us by email.