Top Tips for Separated Co-Parenting in Lockdown
Since the country entered a period of lockdown we have seen an increase in enquiries from concerned separated parents. Specialist family law solicitor, Jen Pollock, shares her top tips for co-parenting during this difficult time.
Communication is key
Try to remember that this is a stressful time for everyone for different reasons and that misunderstandings can happen more easily when communication is hurried or limited to fractious emails or text messages. Take time to communicate your concerns calmly to the other parent and listen to their response. Try to understand where they are coming from and why they might be feeling that way. Approaching this as a team will leave you in a much better place to consider how you can address these issues together, with your child’s needs being given priority.
Do not involve young children in decision making
Recent polls have demonstrated that children, especially those under the age of 11, are experiencing heightened levels of stress and worry about Coronavirus. This is compounded by schools and parks being closed and social distancing measures preventing them spending time with friends and other family members. Children need their parents to work together to make decisions about where they should be living and when they should be spending time with the other parent during lockdown. Putting pressure on a child to choose between parents is likely to add to their emotional burden and should be avoided.
Try to be flexible
Although routines are important for children, parents need to realise that there may need to be some disruption to the previous contact pattern or order to take into account school closures, working from home, periods of self-isolation and the child’s current needs. The family courts have made it clear that it may not be appropriate for existing orders to be enforced strictly, however there should be justification for any refusal to comply and any temporary amendments should be in the spirit of the order and made by agreement where possible. Remember that having another parent to help with home schooling can benefit all parties!
If face-to-face contact cannot happen for a period of time, or as regularly as possible, consider ways to ensure that your child stays in contact with their other parent. Video or telephone contact should be encouraged where the child is old enough. If you are not able to spend physical time with your child, consider how to make video contact fun and engaging – for example reading a story or playing a game together (there are lots of great Apps springing up for this). Letters, postcards and fun packages with activities can also be great ways to maintain close links with your children from a distance.
The safety of the child comes first
Your child’s safety should always remain the priority. If contact was previously only happening on a supervised basis and this is no longer possible then direct contact is likely to have to stop until supervision can recommence. There are some privately run organisations who are still operating to supervise contact during lockdown, and this may be an option in some cases.
Specialist family lawyers
Don’t forget we are here for you, to advise, represent and support you through your case. To contact our team of specialist family lawyers in Bristol or London, please call 0117 906 9400 or email email@example.com