Fact: children are allowed to move between the homes of separated parents even during the peaks of lockdown, writes Louise Barretto, Head of our Family Law team.
Responding to a question at a recent televised Downing Street press conference Boris Johnson said that while people should check the rules, “alas”, some parents might face restrictions on seeing children. The question came in a video from a parent called Chris Eldridge in Margate, Kent, which is currently in the lowest of the three-tier system for Covid regulations.
As reported by the Guardian Mr Eldridge’s query was whether he might encounter problems in seeing his son, who lives in Essex, almost all of which will be moved into the middle tier on Friday night.
“You should go on the website, obviously, and check, but when places go into a higher tier from the basic medium, then there are restrictions on household contact, alas,” Johnson said. “So, depending on how you define your household, you may find there are restrictions.”
That is wrong. As the Guardian reported a briefing by the House of Commons library about the new rules notes that the latest, issued last week, state that in all three tiers, restrictions of meetings do not apply “for the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents”.
Eldridge said he was left “shouting at the television” after Johnson failed to answer his question. He said: “I felt he was just pushing it by the wayside, by saying to go on the website”.
My sympathy lies with Mr Eldridge: “I was on the website, I had to go on the website to submit my question. Obviously, I had gone to the website to try and find the answer to my situation. Considering all the steps you go through to submit a question, it would have been a lot easier, a lot quicker, to get my answer if I were to find it on their website”.
“Initially I didn’t pick up on the fact he said there might be restrictions. Five minutes later I got forwarded an article that actually gave me the answer I was looking for.”
“It was hard going from seeing (my son) every weekend, but fortunately with a bit of technology I could still speak to him, but that’s not the same thing.”
“I understand that the government aren’t going to be able to provide an answer to everybody’s situation, but you can see that my situation is going to be the sort of thing that’s troubling quite a few people.”
A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that there was “an exemption for any kind of childcare for separated parents in all tiers”.
The above is accurate as at 27 October 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.