With just a week to go until Christmas we are seeing increasingly strict noises coming from Government about keeping family gatherings small over the holidays. So what are the rules around children visiting their separated parents this Christmas?
The General Rules
During the first and strictest lockdown in March 2020 the Government issued guidance alongside the “Staying at Home” rules which stated “Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact”.
The President of the Family Division of the High Court noted at the same time that the guidance does not mean that children must move between homes, the decision being one for parents to take after assessing their circumstances.
This guidance still applies and parents are expected to use their common sense regarding contact.
Christmas 2020 arrangements
Under the new Christmas “bubble” rules, children with separated parents are expressly allowed to move between their parents’ two bubbles.
Often the visitation arrangements for Christmas will be covered by an existing court order. If one parent decides that they want to break the order, perhaps due to safety concerns about the children visiting the other parent, then the courts will, if asked, have to decide whether they have acted reasonably in the circumstances in light of the official advice.
At the very least they will expect alternate arrangements to have been put in place such as Zoom video calls or similar to ensure that the child is still able to interact with the other parent during this special time of year. It is likely that they will also grant the child additional time with the other parent when appropriate to make up for the lost contact.
If you have questions regarding contact arrangements for your children then we are here to help. Contact us today to arrangement a free 30 minute appointment with one of our friendly expert family lawyers.
The Backhouse Solicitors Team
Tel: 01245 893400
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JU
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