Contact: How do the “Christmas bubble” rules affect child arrangements?

8th December 2020 5:50 pm Comments Off on Contact: How do the “Christmas bubble” rules affect child arrangements?

Christmas is a special time of year for families, especially children. This year will be unlike any other due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting national restrictions.

As people want to be with their friends and family over Christmas, particularly after such a difficult year, the Government has changed some social contact restrictions for a short time over the festive period.

What are the rules between 23 and 27 December 2020?

  • You can form a ‘Christmas bubble’ composed of people from no more than three households
  • You can only be in one Christmas bubble
  • You cannot change your Christmas bubble
  • You can travel between tiers and UK nations for the purposes of meeting your Christmas bubble
  • You can only meet your Christmas bubble in private homes or in your garden, places of worship, or public outdoor spaces
  • You can continue to meet people who are not in your Christmas bubble outside your home according to the rules in the tier you are meeting in (find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area here: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions)
  • If you form a Christmas bubble, you should not meet socially with friends and family that you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble

How do the rules affect existing child arrangements?

The Government has issued the following guidance for separated parents of children under 18:“Children (under-18) whose parents do not live together may be part of both parents’ Christmas bubbles, if their parents choose to form separate bubbles. Nobody else should be in two bubbles.”

This means that children of separated parents can move freely between each of their parents’ households and be in each of their parents’ bubbles. If you are a separated parent, then you do not have to include the other parent’s household as part of your Christmas bubble, but you can if you wish.

When following the rules, it is important that everyone continues to take personal responsibility to limit the spread of the virus and to protect their loved ones. In March 2020, the President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice issued general guidance on compliance with Child Arrangement Orders from the Family Court. This stated that, where children of separated parents are allowed to move between their parents’ homes, it does not mean that children must be moved between homes. Whether a child is to move between households is a decision for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including: the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any vulnerable individuals in one household or the other. This message still applies over Christmas and, therefore, for many, it will not be possible to celebrate Christmas in the usual way. However, even if children are prevented from having physical contact with a separated parent, arrangements to allow video or phone calls can and should still take place.

Contact us

If you are concerned about child arrangements this Christmas, please contact our specialist family solicitors on 01628 631051 or email family@colemans.co.uk to make an appointment. We are offering a remote initial consultation meeting by Zoom or by telephone for a fixed fee of £150, so get in touch today.


Categorised in: Family Law

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

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