Solutions Available For Coronavirus Being Used As Excuse To Withhold Contact
An increase in disputes over co-parenting arrangements are set to hit the courts due to parents withholding contact because of the lockdown, lawyers are warning. Enquiries have doubled in a month.
Disputes around child arrangements have come into the spotlight as family lawyers have seen enquiries double in a month. National law firm, Irwin Mitchell, found that in comparison to May, June 2020 saw almost double the amount of queries relating to child contact cases, up to 47 from 26 the previous month.
After the lockdown was implemented in the middle of March, the Government was quick to clarify that children could move between their parent’s households in order to allow the child to spend time with both parents. Unfortunately some parents used the lockdown as an excuse to withhold contact from the co-parent, even when there was court-mandated Child Arrangement Order in place.
Expert family lawyers at national law firm Irwin Mitchell say the increase is directly related to the lockdown. This is either due to parents breaching a court order, not continuing with their private agreement or wanting something more formal in place.
Expert Opinion“Our enquiries are showing that there has been a big increase in disputes between parents, with the majority citing the lockdown as the key reason for any discord.
“Many of those getting in touch are now looking to revisit arrangements with their ex-partner, or get a formal arrangement for the first time, after a parent has sadly withheld contact, using the lockdown as the reason. This is despite the Government making it clear pre-existing arrangements should continue.
“It’s common for parents to want to revisit their co-parenting situation after a parent has withheld contact. What is unusual at the moment is that this is happening in a significant number of households as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“I hope that now lockdown is easing and normality is returning, parents will be more willing to allow their children to travel and stay at the co-parents’ house. However, for those in particularly difficult situations where their co-parent has withheld contact parents may still not be seeing their children.” Emily Hugo - Solicitor
Specialist family lawyers say the key to any disagreement involving children is communication and putting the child’s needs first and foremost.
Emily continued: “Flexibility is always vital when it comes to co-parenting agreements, and this is more important now than ever. For instance, if a parent’s working situation is still largely based from home then they may be able to spend more time with their child than they did previously, so a 50/50 arrangement might be better for both the parents and the child.
“Try to ensure the lines of communication are kept open with a co-parent; this might be easier said than done, but nearly all issues can be resolved by parents sitting down and speaking honestly. If the situation, unfortunately, isn’t resolving then parents can talk to a solicitor on what to do next.”