Lockdown 2 has arrived. In response to a second wave of infections, non-essential shops, hospitality and entertainment venues have all been closed and restrictions placed on meetings between people who live in different households. For separated and divorced parents who do not live with their children, this can be an especially stressful time.
If you do not live with your children, seeing them regularly is central to forming a loving relationship and being a good parent. Enforced separation can be an anxious time because you are not a presence in their daily lives.
Fortunately, the government quickly clarified the situation for separated parents during the second lockdown, and the news is mostly good. You can continue to see your children for the duration of the restrictions. They can still travel to your household for overnight stays.
But each parent will still be expected to take sensible precautions – namely:
- Safe social distancing.
- Keeping journeys between households to the minimum required – the children could for example, spend longer than normal with each parent, cutting the number of journeys between households.
- Using private vehicles rather than public transport whenever possible.
Continuing contact is contingent on two things:
- The cooperation of the parent with whom the child normally lives.
- The absence of any need for the child to quarantine – following arrival from abroad for example.
- Neither household being in isolation due to suspected covid-19 symptoms.
As ever, communication and co-operation are key. Work with the other parent to make any necessary changes to your usual routine. But it is worth remembering that there is no obligation to continue contact arrangements during lockdown. If the resident parent insists on suspending all regular contact for the duration, it may be sensible to just step back and let settle for video chats or phone calls until we can all return to a degree of normality.
Of course, if your relationship with the other parent is fraught, communication and co-operation could be a challenge. This is where legal advice from an expert family solicitor could be invaluable – they will advise you on your rights and help you explore the available options: for example, mediation via lockdown-friendly video call.
We all hope that lockdown 2 will end on schedule in a few weeks’ time. You will soon need to begin considering arrangements for Christmas: a frequent source of conflict between separated parents. If you are able to keep things cordial now, any necessary negotiations in December may go much more smoothly.
Image by Niaz Morshed via Flickr (Creative Commons)