When the country first went into lockdown in March 2020, there was a great deal of confusion about whether the “stay at home” message for children of separated parents applied to them or not. The Government subsequently offered guidance to confirm that children from separated parents could move between two households.
Despite this guidance, the pandemic has created a period of chaos for many families, meaning that some children have had to adapt to a change to their normal pattern of contact with a non-resident parent.
For example, if one parent was especially vulnerable and couldn’t risk having contact with a child who had been attending school, it may be that the contact had to be suspended.
Alternatively, if one parent had to work from home whilst the schools were shut, it may be that the parents had to share the childcare more equally and on an ad hoc basis.
Transitioning Child Arrangements Post-Lockdown
If your child arrangements have changed due to lockdown and you are now looking to shift the arrangements back to how they were pre-lockdown, there is some guidance below to ensure that any change to the arrangements is handled in the most child-focused way. Here are 3 tips to ensure that you child arrangements are transitioned effectively:
Communication is key! It is important that you communicate effectively with each other but also that you communicate with your children. Children should never be dragged into adult issues, especially where there is conflict between the parents, however they should be made aware in advance of any changes to the arrangements, for example if they are going to be spending more or less time with either parent.
- Take a gradual process
Children, especially younger children, thrive on stability. This does not mean that child arrangements should not be flexible, however if there is going to be a significant change to the amount of time that they are spending with either parent, then it is better for this to be a gradual process to allow the children time to adjust. This is especially relevant if they have had reduced contact with one parent over the course of lockdown – it is sensible for the contact to be built up over several weeks.
- Prioritise the children
The golden rule whilst coparenting is that the children should always be prioritised over any negative feelings that you may have towards your former partner. It is common for there to be a degree of hostility between separated parents, and it is important that this does not impact upon the relationship that the children have with either parent.