Our legal expert Nathan Wright, answers your questions during such uncertain times.
Can I get temporary custody of my children during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Q. I have two children who live with my former partner who has been described as a key worker during this dreadful pandemic. Because of this she has insisted on sending our children to school. I am at my wits end as I think she is placing them at risk of contracting Coronavirus. I believe she is just being difficult for the sake of it, because I work part time from home and could easily care for the children. So, they really do not have to go to school at all. Is there anything I can do to force her to let me look after them in my home for the time being while the country is in crisis?
A. Where parents cannot agree about child arrangements one will usually need to make an application to the Court. When deciding what Order to make, which in your case is whether the children should attend school or not, the court will look at a number of criteria as set out in the children act 1989. These criteria are commonly referred to as the welfare checklist.
Ultimately, the Court will make their decision based on what they believe is in the children’s best interests. One of the criteria the court are required to consider is the child’s short term and long-term physical, emotional and educational needs. To this end they will consider which parent is best placed to provide these needs and this will usually be based on evidence that has been submitted to the court. To achieve the best chance of providing what you clearly believe to be the safest option for your children, you should make an appointment to speak to a family solicitor as soon as possible. For safety reasons some solicitors such as ourselves are currently conducting telephone appointments, so do be patient as call volumes will be higher than usual.
This question has been answered by Nathan Wright, a Partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter during the uncertain times we are all facing, it will still be possible and we will do everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. However, we have decided to close all our offices to clients and we are now operating with a skeleton staff. We would therefore prefer email communication, but we do have a message taking service and our staff will be able to call you back or email as appropriate.
If you have a new enquiry please use the ‘Contact us’ form on our website at www.ghplegal.com or call 01978 291456 . Work will be prioritised by urgency and need but we will endeavour to deal with all matters as quickly as we can. The safety of our staff and our clients is paramount to us at this difficult time but we will continue working on your behalf whilst adhering to the latest Government advice by minimising contact. All documents being delivered to our offices must now be posted through the letterbox rather than handed in. All meetings are now by way of telephone and not face to face for the foreseeable future. Please bear with us and stay safe.