Covid-19: child arrangement tips for separated parents
By Natalie Jenner, Partner at Parslows Jersey
The effects of COVID-19 in Jersey have meant unrest and upheaval for a lot of families. This can be particularly complex for families with separated parents. Here, Parslows provides some tips to separated parents making child arrangements in Jersey at this time.
First and foremost, it’s important your children are aware of COVID-19. Parenting Support Services have put together some useful resources for talking to your children about COVID-19. This will help them understand the reason for this disruption to their normal routine, the seriousness of the pandemic and the importance of working together as a family during this time, despite not living in the same home.
Establish any changes to your usual arrangements
With ever-changing measures, you may have changed your arrangements in response to COVID-19 several times. And while Jersey is not currently in a lockdown, there may be personal circumstances that affect your arrangements. Continue to have open and honest discussions with your ex-partner.
Whilst there are currently rules in place regarding household mixing, the decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make, after a sensible assessment of the circumstances. Consider your child’s health, the risk of infection and the presence of any vulnerable individuals in your own household or the other parent’s when considering making any changes.
Where parents, acting in agreement, exercise their parental responsibility to conclude that the contact or care arrangements should be temporarily varied, they are free to do so. If arrangements are varied, it would, however, be sensible, if you keep a record of the changes either in a note, email or text message.
Separated parents making school arrangements and childcare
Any communication that comes from your child’s school should be distributed between both parents so both are fully informed of the latest updates. You can find more general information about changes to COVID-19 safety frameworks in education from the Department of Children, Young People, Education and Skills. More specific information about COVID-19 testing for students will come directly from your child’s school, so make sure you are both aware of the latest measures relevant to your child.
The current advice from the Covid hotline is that it is permissible to mix households for the purposes of providing care (including childcare).
Communication is key for separated parents
As ever, separated parents should make sure they both communicate effectively to confirm dates and times for all handovers. Due to the guidance on social distancing — unless there are serious reasons as to why you cannot facilitate handovers directly with your ex-partner (e.g. due to domestic abuse) — then do keep handovers between yourselves and avoid using third parties, particularly grandparents if they are considered vulnerable or over 65 years old. It’s also important that the children are made aware of any changes to routine.
If your child(ren) has any health issues such as asthma, ensure that all necessary medicines are available in both households and that you each have an adequate amount of their belongings, clothing and other essential items at your respective homes.
How self-isolation affect child arrangements
If you or your ex-partner are experiencing symptoms and you have been advised to self-isolate, it would be prudent that you call the helpline (01534 445566) to discuss your situation and ask for guidance.
It may well be that you are advised to self-isolate and it would be best if the children are to remain with your ex-partner during this period. It is therefore important to plan in advance and have the above discussions with your ex-partner now, should you be faced with the more serious issue of self-isolation in the future. If you have a contingency plan in place it will make this process smoother should the need for one of your to self-isolate arise.
If you or your partner are having to self-isolate, make use of apps like FaceTime, Skype or zoom to ensure that your children are able to have some form of contact with their parent.
Please note that the information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and is designed to provide you with an outline of the legal services we offer. Whilst we endeavour to ensure our information is correct and useful, we make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information offered. Information on our website does not constitute legal advice and Parslows Jersey accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising out of, or in connection with, the information found in this website. Please consult a lawyer at Parslows Jersey in the event that you require professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of the same, is correct.
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