Co-parenting during lockdown

For families where parents are separated, many arrangements can carry on as normal. The government has said that children can carry on moving between their parents’ homes if it’s safe to do so.

Little boy is meeting and talking in video chat. Stay at home during quarantine. Communication with relatives and friends online

Access arrangements

  • Children need routine to feel secure, so stick to existing arrangements where you can. As well as needing quality time together, children will want to see their parents are safe, too.
  • If arrangements do need to change, try to be flexible and minimise disruption for your child.
  • If you can’t resolve conflicts we recommend talking to a solicitor, or the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).
  • Child Law Advice also has further guidance, including the latest updates from the government.

Maintenance and money

  • If your finances change, talk to each other (where possible) about what this means for your child. For example, reduced or paused maintenance payments.
  • Check if you’re eligible for the government’s furlough or self-employment schemes. These will continue to pay some income if a job is paused.
  • To understand your rights, visit the Child Maintenance website.
  • For help with money and financial questions, try the charity Turn2Us.
  • For housing information, contact Shelter.
  • For general guidance, try Citizens Advice.

Balancing childcare and work

  • Ask your boss if they can help with flexible working patterns.
  • Your child may be able to go to school or another childcare setting if you’re a key worker. This is also the case if they’re usually supported by social care. Contact your local authority for advice about education options.
  • Acas can help if you’re worried about your job or job duties.

What if one parent is self-isolating?

You may need to pause visits if one household shows virus symptoms. If this happens, keep in touch remotely so your child has plenty of contact with both parents. You could:

  • Schedule regular phone and video calls for homework, bedtime stories and daily chats.
  • Set up a ‘watch along’, where both households watch a film or show, then talk about it in real time by phone or text.
  • Include other carers, such as grandparents, in remote contact. This can be a nice way for those who are isolating to feel connected.

Working as a team

We understand it’s not always possible, but try to work as a team with the other parent or carer.

  • Talk often and communicate openly.
  • Make a parenting plan so everyone feels heard and included.
  • If children are old enough, involve them in deciding house rules and daily routines.
  • Keep children shielded from grown-up conversations, such as access and maintenance arrangements. These are likely too much for them to deal with.
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