Child Custody CovidChild Contact and Covid: Your Questions Answered

Can my child break quarantine if they are visiting a restricted country for contact with the other parent?

Many divorced or separated parents are worried about the rules for contact during coronavirus. Where parents are separated and there are formal contact arrangements, a child can return to live with one parent after a period of contact with the other. A parent can do this, even if this means breaking quarantine. For example, if Parent A takes a child on holiday to France, both Parent A and the child must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. This is unless there are formal, court-ordered contact arrangements in place that say the child should be with Parent B who has not left England. The child may break quarantine to allow these arrangements to take place.

But what if the child lives with Parent A in France and Parent B lives in England? Could the child break the 14 day quarantine upon arriving in England to have contact with Parent B? The answer is yes.

A child under the age of 18 is permitted to move between addresses to fulfil court-ordered contact arrangements within 14 days of their return from overseas. The parent who accompanied them overseas can also leave quarantine to hand them over to the other parent in order to comply with the contact arrangements. Reasonable precautions should be taken during travel.

There are also no regulations that prevent a child already in England from visiting or staying with a parent that it is in self-isolation. However the child must adhere to other COVID-19 requirements including “the rule of 6”.

Can I break quarantine to see my child when I have arrived in the UK from another country?

There are also rules for child contact during coronavirus where travel abroad is required.

A parent who has travelled to England to see their child from any country is allowed to break quarantine for direct contact with their child. But this is only if the contact is pursuant to a court order.

Do you have an order from any court in England and Wales regarding childcare arrangements? This is usually referred to as a ‘child arrangements order’. If you do, a parent will be allowed to break quarantine in line with the directions made by the court in the order.

You will be able to break quarantine for the following reasons:
1. To travel to pick up your child from the other parent.

2. To travel to drop off the child with the other parent

– Take all reasonable precautions during your travel and avoid public transport wherever possible.
– Wear a mask at all times and maintain a social distance of 1m + wherever possible from other people.
– Frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before, during and after your journey.
– Travel directly to and from your destination so far as it is possible and safe to do so.

Your child may also travel to your household to quarantine with you so long as you do not have more than six people (including infants) in the house at any time.

If you have any symptoms of covid, you must not leave your house to spend time with your child outside or in another location, regardless of any precautions you may be able to take. This includes going to parks, restaurants or cafes; sight-seeing; shopping or visiting other family and friends.

Don’t break quarantine if your child contact arrangements have been made by individual parents so have not been subject to Judge approval. If you have a childcare arrangement with the other parent that you manage without court intervention, you should not break quarantine to allow for these arrangements to continue.

What about contact with my child if I am experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?

The rules for child contact during coronavirus are strict if you or your child fall ill. You should not travel to England and Wales if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. You must delay travel outside of your country until you have had a negative COVID test within 24 hours before travelling.

You should minimise your exposure to anyone, including your child, if you start to experience COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival. You should immediately inform the other parent of your symptoms, begin to self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible. If your child is in a vulnerable category, you are advised to maintain indirect contact only through telephone calls and video-chat wherever possible.

You should immediately inform the other parent if you or your child start to develop symptoms whilst your child is staying with you. The household must then isolate and everyone must get a test as soon as possible, including yourself and your child. Your child should remain quarantined with you until you test negative or after 10 days since your symptoms first appeared and 24 hours of no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (not including loss of taste and smell), whichever is sooner. Your child will then need to continue to self-isolate for 14 days after their last exposure to you. Your child will need to isolate in the other parent’s household as must everyone else living at that address. This is why it is very important that communication between both parents is clear and respectful of each other’s circumstances.

The courts and tribunal service have provided helpful guidance on the compliance with child arrangements orders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact our lawyers for free initial advice and guidance on the telephone if you have any concerns about issues in this article. Please also note that governmental guidance changes regularly and you should check our blog for any updates on these rules.

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