Doncaster Office
Sheffield Office

Contact arrangements with children during lockdown

30 April 2020

Dawn Hughes

This is an unprecedented time for separated parents. The president of the Family Division has offered guidance during this time and we have summarised this as follows:

  • Parental responsibility remains with the parents, not the court, even where there is a court order in place
  • The expectation is that parents will care for their children by acting sensibly and safely during this time
  • Parents must abide by the rules on staying at home as issued by the government on 23rd March
  • Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.
  • This does not mean that children must be moved between homes – the parents must make a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the children’s current health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in either household.
  • The parents should communicate with each other about their concerns and what would be the best solution.
  • Where parents, acting in agreement, conclude that the arrangements in an order should be temporarily varied, they are free to do so. This should be noted in a text, email or letter.
  • Where parents do not agree but one parent has concerns that complying with the order would be against current public health advice, that parent may exercise their parental responsibility and vary the arrangement.
  • The family court would consider whether that parent acted reasonably and sensibly in light of the official health advice
  • Where the arrangements are varied, the court would expect alternative arrangements to be made such as the use of facetime, WhatsApp or skype.


If you require any advice during this difficult time, please contact our Dawn Hughes on 01302 341414 or at


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