There with you: Protecting children as vital as ever, says legal firm
PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 April 2020
Protecting and caring for your children is as important as ever during these uncertain times, says a North Somerset legal practice.
On March 24 the Government said children can still move between separated parents during the coronavirus restrictions.
And Nailsea-based family barrister, Elizabeth McCallum, co-founder of the legal service Children in the Middle with fellow barrister Sarah Evans, said: “It’s important to maintain your child’s routine, however, each parent needs to undertake an assessment of the risks involved. If it is not safe for the other parent to care for the children, then the court will expect alternative contact arrangements to be made.”
Maintaining communication with the co-parent is essential, Elizabeth says, even if that has to be done via a trusted third party and children should stay in touch with their other parent and family members using means such as Skype and Facetime.
Children in the Middle solely offers separating, or divorcing parents, who want to make legal arrangements to see their children, access to barristers.
In the past, a solicitor had to instruct a barrister, but thanks to rule changes under the Public Access Scheme, members of the public are now able to contact barristers themselves.
Shared care has become increasingly common and in many cases offers a better solution for both parents and children, Elizabeth says.
She said: “Making shared-care arrangements can be fairly straight-forward, but it can also involve a number of complex issues and may require careful negotiation between parents, or even court proceedings.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised parents to tell children the facts about COVID-19, giving clear information on how to reduce the risk of infection.
Elizabeth added: “Ensure they feel safe and reassured during a scary time by keeping to a routine as much as possible. Although schools are shut, you should stick to mealtimes and bedtimes and any other daily rituals.
“Routines with each of their parents should also be maintained, unless there are justified medical/self-isolation issues or national guidance issued associated with leaving your house.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has been a huge disruption to everybody’s lives. However, as we are a nation that keeps calm and carries on, albeit abiding by the Government’s current restrictions, we’d like to reassure anyone out there who is in the midst of separating or divorcing and receiving help regarding the care of their children, that their case will continue.
“Courts are currently operating virtually and as we have always worked remotely, we are very well placed to continue to represent or advise people.”
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