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Lockdown: Co-parenting across two households

Posted: 24/03/2020

With the UK in lockdown, Lucy Clark addresses the key concerns for separated parents:

Q: How do I ensure that my children can continue to spend time with both parents?

A: If a child divides their time between two homes, that child is considered to have two households. As clarified by the UK government this morning, children should continue to divide their time between those two households. It is likely that parents will need to work together to act in the best interests of their children at this unprecedented time. Many people are working from home and are balancing childcare with maintaining commitments to their work. Where parents live close by, it may help to reach an agreement where a child can spend time each day with both parents. The most important thing is to establish a routine for your child to ensure that they feel safe and secure with both of their parents despite it being a deeply unsettling time for adults. Whilst schools are closed, co-parents should stick to usual meal times and bedtimes and any other activities, new or old, which can be done at home.

Q: How should we travel between both households?

A: You should not use public transport to travel to the other parent’s home and you should, as parents, remain two metres apart when you are delivering your child to the other parent. If you live within walking distance, consider using your daily exercise time to deliver your child to the other parent.

Q: How do we minimise the risk of infection?

A: Of course, we should all be following the Government’s clear ruling on social distancing and be particularly stringent with hygiene, including frequent and thorough hand washing. This is particularly important where it is necessary for a child to move between two households. Co-parents should be absolutely clear that the other parent has been following the Government’s message. 

Q: What if my co-parent or I have a new partner?

A: The new ruling means that couples who do not live in the same household should not see one another. That means that if one parent has started a new relationship, they should not continue to see their new partner. If the other parent is already living with a new partner, it is acceptable to ask questions to reassure yourself that they are also adhering to the Government’s ruling.  

Q: What if my co-parent is a key worker?

A: If a co-parent is a key worker, they may be unable to co-parent as easily as they have been able to in the past. In this instance, conversations will need to take place to adapt and make the best of the current situation for the benefit of your children. Inevitably, some separated parents will have a better relationship than others and if you are not able to reach an agreement directly, you should consider attending a mediation session over the internet.

Q: What if my or my co-parent’s household has to self-isolate with symptoms of Coronavirus?

A: If it is necessary for a household to self-isolate, then the child will not be able to have direct contact with the other parent during this time. However, both parents should make every effort to have frequent and regular video or telephone calls during the 14 day period of isolation and at other times if face to face time is not possible.

Finally, please bear in mind…

Whilst this is an extremely difficult period for adults, it does not need to be that way for children. Co-parents should work together to make this period one which is a memorable and happy time for children where families spend more time together rather than one that is remembered for its restrictions.

Rapidly changing advice

As with all advice and new laws relating to this emergency, the situation is rapidly changing and further guidance is expected in relation to co-parenting throughout this crisis in the coming days.

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