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Half term contact arrangements during COVID-19 times

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With the February 2021 half term fast approaching separated parents are asking for help to sort out the half term contact arrangements during COVID-19 times. What may have previously worked for separated parents may not be appropriate during a national lockdown. With travel restrictions the ski trip or holiday to grandparents is not an option leading to parental conflict over half term contact arrangements. In this blog family and children law solicitor, Behzad Sharmin, looks at child contact and COVID-19 related issues.

Online London based family and children law solicitors

At London based OTS Solicitors the children and family law team  can answer all your children law queries, and if necessary, provide legal representation in children court proceedings. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form to set up a video conference, skype or telephone appointment with one of our specialist children lawyers to get the help and legal advice you need on child contact and custody.

February half term contact

As children lawyers we questioned why we were getting so many calls from anxious parents about February 2021 half term contact. We realised that it was probably because separated parents have had to cope with the impact of COVID-19 and school closures and restrictions for nearly a year. That combined, in some cases with working from home in a full-time job whilst juggling home schooling, is just too much to cope with and hence the fall outs over contact over the February half term holiday.

In a ‘normal’ year half-term holiday disputes tend to centre on:

  • Which separated parent should spend the half-term holiday with the children
  • If the half-term holiday is going to be shared the dates both parents get to spend time with the children and the hand over arrangements
  • Whether a parent has the other parent’s permission to take the children abroad on holiday – sometimes there is an objection on the basis that the planned holiday is too dangerous, for example a skiing trip, or that the children are too young to be taken out of the country or there is a fear of child abduction and the parent not returning to the UK with the children at the end of the half-term holiday
  • Whether the children should come into contact with other people during the half-term holiday, such as the new partner of your former husband or wife.

Many of these issues aren’t relevant this year with the national lockdown and travel restrictions preventing holidays both in the UK and overseas and many families being unable to meet up. However, COVID-19 brings its own issues to February half-term contact, namely:

  • Whether the children should spend time with the other parent if the parent is a key worker and the children (or a relative that they live with) is thought to be at particular risk because of the contact, especially when a vaccine will be available soon and then contact would be safer for the child or the family member the child lives with
  • Whether it is safe or right to transport the children a long way for contact with the other parent during a national lockdown – the government guidance says that you can leave your home for the purpose of taking children to or collecting them for contact. However, some parents are understandably concerned about either the risks of travel on public transport or being stopped by the police and questioned about the purpose of their journey. This is especially the case if one parent lives in an area where a new strain of COVID-19 has been detected
  • Whether the other parent should have the children for the full half-term so that the parent can get some work done without having to juggle work with child care. This year there are far more disputes over this issue. That is because parents want their children to spend time with the other parent but the other parent doesn’t want contact because of their own job commitments or because they would prefer to take time off work to spend with the children when the national lockdown is over and they can take the children on holiday or on outings and aren’t restricted to local exercise once a day with fractious and bored children.

Sorting out half-term holiday contact

Many parents assume that because of COVID-19 the family courts are closed. That isn’t the case. Whilst it isn’t business as normal court hearings are still taking place either in court buildings or online. Therefore, if you need an urgent child custody or child arrangements order you can apply for one. For example, if you have concerns about the welfare of your child or you fear that your child is at risk of child abduction.

The government has recommended that where possible parents try to reach agreement over child contact arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is of course sensible advice, whether there is an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or not. However, the reality is that some parents can't reach agreement on their own and need the help of a specialist children law solicitor to reach a child contact resolution. Experienced children law solicitors can help you see the other parent’s point of view or assist you in reaching a resolution without your needing to apply to court for a child arrangement order or a specific issue order or to enforce an existing child custody or child contact order.

It is very easy during a third national lockdown and having endured home working or the financial worry of loss of employment and home schooling to let child contact arrangements get to you. That is particularly the case when you feel that you have shouldered the majority of the burden of home schooling and your former partner either won't step up and share schooling and child care responsibility with you or just wants contact at the ‘good times’, such as the February half -term holiday when they won't have to juggle home working with child care. Alternatively, the other parent may want to swap their holiday contact to time in the summer so they can spend ‘quality time’ with the children. Whatever your February half-term child contact concern its best to take some specialist children law advice on your options to help you find a resolution that works for you.       


If you need help with sorting out February half-term contact after your separation or divorce then the children and family law team at OTS Solicitors are here to advise you on how best to reach a resolution over child contact and to answer your children law questions. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form so we can set up a skype, video conference or telephone appointment for you with one of our friendly and approachable children law solicitors.

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