Separated parents using lockdown to prevent contact with the other parents will face Court action, the head of the family court has stated.
There has been a huge increase in calls from disputing parents since the lockdown was set in the UK. The rules were slightly different for split families in that children were allowed to move between homes of their parents. The head of the family Courts Sir Andrew McFarlane has confirmed that legal action would be taken against a parent not allowing the children to see the other parent. This is completely unfair on the child and the parent who is not allowed contact. Judge McFarlane has said if the parents are acting in a cynical and opportunist manner then that’s wrong and the Court will regard it as wrong. He has encouraged parents to think of the child and not to manipulate the current guidelines to prevent the contact.
A family law barrister has said that in fact the rules should state that children “should” move between homes not “can” move between homes.
Judge McFarlane believes the guidance is adequate and stated “Do something you don’t want to for the sake of your child”. He did add however that a child’s safety is still a matter for parental judgment ultimately and the Court will not take this away. The Court will need to take into account both parents concerns when deciding on the best way forward during the current climate.
If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place then this should be upheld unless the child visiting the other parents poses a high risk to the child and this should be assessed between both parents. If a parent feels the lockdown guidance is being used as a reason to unnecessarily stop contact then we can assist in making an application to the Court to enforce an order currently in place.