The COVID-19 crisis has forced us to rethink how we live our lives. Many people are working from home to help prevent the spread of the virus. We’ve given up social gatherings. And all but essential trips out of the home have come to an end.

For those going through a divorce, this will be an even more confusing time. Custody battles can be hard to manage at the best of times, but when you throw a global pandemic into the mix, it can become even more complicated.

Parents who split custody might be wondering if it is safe for their child to go back and forth between homes. And those with elderly parents might be wondering if their grandchildren are allowed to visit. In this article, we will look at some of the challenges facing parents during the COVID-19 crisis and how to handle custody during a time of crisis.

Can my child go back and forth between houses?

Children who would normally spend time with both parents can continue to do so. This is considered essential travel, so you can travel to pick up your children or to drop them off at the other parent’s home.

If you would normally travel by public transport, you might find that transport options on your usual route have been reduced or suspended. If possible, consider walking or travelling by bike to help prevent the spread of the virus.

What if my ex is refusing to let me see my children?

If your ex-partner is using the COVID-19 outbreak as a reason to stop you from seeing your children, the first step should be to try to reason with the other parent. Explain that the children will be safe travelling between the two homes and let them know any measures you have put in place to protect them. If they are still refusing, you may need to get specialist help from the courts. Also see, www.wiselaw.co.uk which is a site for finding a family lawyer local to where you live. If you require one.

What if my ex isn’t social distancing?

If your ex-partner is not practising social distancing and you are worried about the impact on your child, the first step is to explain to your ex-partner why it is important. While you cannot decide how your partner handles things, you can take control of things in your own home.

If you are diligent with hand washing and minimise your contact with other people, you can greatly lower the risk of catching or spreading the virus.

What if one parent still has to work?

If one parent is a key worker and is still required to go into work, you may have the option to continue sending your child to school. The alternative would be for the parent who isn’t in work to take on a greater portion of the childcare responsibilities during this crisis.

Remember that the most important thing is to do whatever is best for your children. If you are a health care worker and you are at greater risk of spreading the virus, it might be better to isolate from your children until you are sure you are no longer a risk. Remember that children don’t typically show symptoms, but they can carry and spread the virus.

Can my children stay with their grandparents?

If you rely on your parents for childcare support, you may be disappointed to learn that your children should stay away from their grandparents until the threat has passed. All people over 70 have been advised to self isolate for at least 12 weeks, and this includes stopping contact with family members that they do not ordinarily live with.

If your parents live with you, they may be able to continue having contact with your children, but only if strict social distancing measures are observed by both parents.

What if my ex-partner has COVID-19?

If either parent is symptomatic, it should go without saying that the child stays with the other parent until they have recovered. If you are concerned about violating a custody agreement, get advice from your family solicitor before making any decisions.

If your ex-partner would be the only person able to care for them, you have a strong case for not allowing them to continue seeing the other parent until they have recovered.

Unprecedented times

Be aware that these are unprecedented times, so there might not be a clear cut answer to your custody questions. The family courts will also be disrupted, so it might be more difficult to secure a hearing date. As much as possible, parents should try to work together to reach a solution that is in the best interest of their children. This can be very difficult if it means that you may have to go longer without seeing your children.

Remember that the threat of coronavirus will soon pass and you will be able to resume your normal custody arrangement or pursue an arrangement in the courts.