24th Mar 2020

Can children move between separated parents now?

By James Pirrie

Behind Michael Gove’s announcement about the movement of children between separated parents during this time of lockdown, lie tens of thousands of complex and – unfortunately, often difficult – co-parenting regimes.

These arrangements may well have been worked out minutely and carefully and may have been the best that could be done in easier times. In the current extraordinary times they may be put under real stress.

Michael Gove clarified his earlier statements, saying ‘To confirm – while children should not normally be moving between households, we recognise that this may be necessary when children who are under 18 move between separate parents’.

The current challenges may well have upended existing arrangements about who the child should spend time with, as differences between the two homes as regards scale of accommodation (to be cooped up in all day) parental working arrangements, availability of food and recreation and educational arrangements may come into stark contrast. A further key issue may be whether a home is shared with other people who are perhaps in the “at risk” categories.

The situation may be compounded by a range of other issues;

  • Communication may not be easy;
  • And there is the added stress perhaps of money worries and the uncertainty of just what is coming along next.

Some tips from FLiP:

Whatever the arrangements, things are made easier with more communication between the decision makers:

  • Find out the tech that works for the two of you …
  • If communication is hard, have a look at the Our Family Wizard programme https://www.ourfamilywizard.co.uk/ which can maximise information flows, provide children insight for the appropriate parts of the information and it can also help to filter out miscommunication that can make things harder.
  • Work out the tech that works for your child … we can break down the geography and put bridges across social isolation through our tech.  There will always be online communication, games and activities that can give new ways of being with our children even when they are not in our homes.

Think short-term …

    • Often we can see that the other parent is proposing a positive re-arrangement of the current structure… but we worry that if we make concessions now, there may be longer-term downsides.
    • So instead of thinking permanent …
    • Work out a structure that will work for the next three weeks;
    • Agree the improvement on the basis that in the absence of anything else, the arrangement will revert back to what it is now at the end of that time.
    • Get in touch in good time before the end of the arrangement when things may be clearer to consider whether to revert, continue with the interim arrangement or find some other structure instead.
    • And always think about what would work best for your children …

Sometimes solutions are just too hard to find through direct discussion.

Our quick and easy to use online mediation services can help free up options to make it easier to find a way forward.

Or, if needs be, parties can adopt arbitration. Again this can be delivered online and can fit in with your timetable. This will authorise a trained third party to make a binding decision when finding agreement is not possible.

If you would like any advice or information on how we can help you and your partner to reach an agreement in these unprecedented time, please contact our talented team of top London divorce and family lawyers at hello@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.