As the lockdown restrictions are eased, new guidance from the Ministry of Justice highlights changes to parenting arrangements. It covers arrangements set out in court orders (under the Care of Children Act 2004) as well as any private arrangements between parents/caregivers and children.
At Alert Level 3, children may move between households (bubbles) in accordance with the shared care arrangements that apply to them. However, it is important to bear in mind that the number of bubbles should be kept to a minimum and only extended where necessary. The movement of children must remain strictly in line with the terms of the parenting agreement that applies to them.
There is no restriction on the distance of travel so children can move between different regions. However, parents/caregivers should only travel if they need to. We suggest that if you do intend on travelling, you take a copy of your court order, or parenting agreement with you so that you can show it to police if you are stopped to help explain your reasons for travelling.
Use private vehicles where possible and only use public transport if there is no alternative.
Under Alert Level 3, children are permitted to move between households (bubbles) in accordance with the terms of their parenting agreement, unless:
- The child is unwell;
- Someone in either home is unwell; or
- Someone involved (either the child or someone in either home) has been overseas in the last 14 days, or has been in close contact with someone who is currently being tested for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who has the virus or is being tested.
If your child or children cannot see other family members face-to-face during this time, please ensure they have as much access as possible by other means, such as by phone, FaceTime, Skype, or other alternatives.
If you have any questions, or cannot agree about how to manage your parenting arrangement, please remember that lawyers are still able to provide legal advice during Alert Level 3.
In thinking about the move to the downgraded Alert Level 2, the Ministry of Justice has said that at Alert Level 2, parenting arrangements return to normal, while still following public health guidelines. So make sure you are keeping up to date with the public health guidelines at all times.