Separated parents in lockdown: Can I travel abroad to see my children?
On 31st October 2020, the government issued the New National Restrictions for the second lockdown effective from 5th November 2020. The new restrictions apply to England (there is separate guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) and will apply nationally for four weeks until Wednesday 2nd December.
Separated parents will, of course, once again be anxious to know what this means for contact arrangements with their children particularly those who live abroad. Back in March 2020 at the start of the first lockdown, the government stated that children were permitted to move between homes as an exemption to the mandatory Stay at Home rules. Please see our earlier blogs:
For a separated parent living in England but whose children live abroad, the rules were not clear as regards international travel for the purposes of contact with their children abroad. This placed many separated parents and their children in a very difficult position. (Please see our earlier blog: Lockdown & Child Arrangements – What If Contact Happens Abroad?)
Whilst the government had provided specific guidance to allow and encourage the continuation of contact with a parent who lived close by (provided it was sensible in the circumstances and could be done safely), the same could not be said for separated parents and their children who lived in different countries.
Whilst not entirely clear, it would seem that restrictions on international travel will continue in the same way as we enter this second lockdown. The new restrictions issued by the government state: “If you live in England, you cannot travel overseas or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons, and you should look to reduce the number of journeys you make.”
Until the government clarifies what ‘other legally permitted reasons’ means – and we hope that they will do so quickly given the difficulty that this places separated parents in – it cannot be said with any certainty that a separated parent can lawfully travel abroad in circumstances where they would ordinarily have scheduled contact with their child/children abroad.
Needless to say, where face to face contact is not possible, regular remote contact arrangements through by Face-Time, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom or by other video-call means should be put in place and otherwise, communication should take place by telephone. Direct contact arrangements should of course resume as soon as possible once the mandatory rules are amended and the travel restrictions eased.
For further information or advice on any of the topics raised in this blog, please contact any of our top London family lawyers on E: firstname.lastname@example.org or T: 020 7420 5000. Alternatively visit our website page for further information on child arrangements on divorce – Child Arrangements on Divorce.