Coronavirus and contact order
19 March 2020 at 3:43 am #37905
Having a sleepless night worrying about what to do regarding the contact order in place for my daughter (age 10) during the Coronavirus pandemic! Curious to find out what arrangements other mums in similar situations are putting in place.
I have a ten year old daughter who see’s her dad every other weekend (fri-sun). I have a sole residence order and he has a contact order. There is a prohibited steps order in place due to significant child protection issues with her father and his family in the past.
For many months now she has been extremely unhappy about going to see her dad. He struggles to control his temper and doesn’t spend any quality time with her. He usually doesn’t get up until midday and she basically spends the weekends there glued to an iPad and being ignored. She is deeply unhappy about going, and is distressed and crying from Wednesday onwards every other week. Friday after school descends in to complete hysteria and she always ends up begging and pleading with me not to send her (I don’t feel I have any choice) and leaving in floods of tears. She is basically intimidated by him and their relationship has broken down, I fear irreparably. It is a shame because I know how much she would love for the situation to be different, and I can see how hurt she is by his lack of interest. Although my relationship with her father is not good and there is little trust between us (due to the child protection issues) I have always supported her relationship with him because I believe it is important for her self-esteem and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, I fear the relationship might now be doing her more harm than good but feel powerless to make the situation better for her. Courts seemingly don’t take on board the views of children at her age, and from my previous experience with the courts I know that parenting has to be absolutely diabolical before it is considered inadequate! Sadly, being ignored and a bit scared doesn’t seem to be grounds enough for reducing contact.
With the arrival of Covid-19 and the government advice on social distancing, I am now unsure what to do about contact moving forward. Obviously, breaching the contact order is a serious matter as it places me in contempt of court. However, she is desperate not to go and terribly afraid of getting stuck there if a member of his family becomes unwell and they have to self-isolate (he lives with his mum and they have various other people staying at the house all the time). He is very dismissive of the virus and all the public health advice and will likely refuse to follow social distancing guidance, placing her at risk.
To complicate matters further, both his birthday and her birthday are coming up and the contact order makes provision for him to see her for both their birthdays so if I were to put a temporary stop to contact it would also interfere with those. I would obviously arrange regular Skype calls etc if I were to stop contact until the situation improves.
Feel utterly trapped and useless. I really want to be able to support her and do what I believe is in her best interests (which is to stop contact whilst social distancing guidance is in place) but I am terrified of being held in contempt of court and penalised as a result!
Any advice, opinions, general thoughts etc would be so so welcome!
Hope you are all hanging in there and keeping yourselves and your loved ones safe during these strange times 💕19 March 2020 at 3:56 am #37906
Should also mention that I am currently taking steroids which weaken my immune system. I have had shingles, meningitis and a whole host of other infections in the past year so am particularly concerned about getting Covid-19. We are self-isolating accordingly as a preventative measure but by sending my daughter to her dads I hugely increase the risk of infection to both my daughter and myself. 😬20 March 2020 at 12:26 pm #37994
Thank you for posting here. I have sent you a private message with some signposting options.
Kind regards, Justine20 March 2020 at 4:47 pm #38068
Having a similiar problem here, I am busy trying to work from home and now homeschooling, I’ve had a cough so we have self-isolated, kept the dad notified but he hasn’t bothered responding. Given previous experience he is probably keeping a track on each time he doesn’t see our daughter to use against me even in these circumstances (wouldnt be the first time!). Any advice please, we are trying to keep my parents (elderly) isolated and also prevent issues with his elderly parents too but i don’t know how we should deal with this beyond that. My daughter sees her dad for tea once a week after school and once a fortnight for the weekend but we can’t currently fulfill this. Also how can we going forward if we want to keep ourselves isolated (we live in a rural place he lives on the outskirts of a highly populated town). Any advice greatly received. I too have a contact order but my daughter lives with me, also concerned about financial implications on my job given productivity and how i ask him to assist our daughter financially to help with online learning resources (that charge) and extra food etc. I’m really stressed and struggling.20 March 2020 at 6:44 pm #38090
I have a similar situation here and am very worried about lack of clarity around how the new gov regulations apply to the contact my 4 y/o DD has with her father.
I am a single mum (since my DD was born), am now working from home and also homeschooling her.
DD dad lives an hour away and comes to collect her by car. She usually spends every other weekend with him. But he takes her to his parents’ house who also has immediate family visiting while she is staying there.
I am lost between trying not to disrupt his contact, but also keeping everyone (including my own household) safe.
We too have a court order in place, and I also have sole custody.
He’s not usually the most reasonable and would assert principles over common sense.
My DD is with him today and tomorrow, so this is a prep for the future when things will inevitably get much stricter.
For advice on how I should act.
I can see there was a private message sent in regards. Could I receive it too if applicable please?
Thank you!20 March 2020 at 7:59 pm #38091
I’m a father who is being prevented from seeing my children on account of the Coronavirus (full disclosure – I’m not happy about it!). I can’t speak for your children’s fathers but I know that I would do my best to use social distancing to keep my children safe. Ultimately they could get it from the delivery driver , a relative… anyone. Complete isolation is impossible unless you have a bunker, months of food etc.
I think a lot of this comes down to a mother’s natural protective instinct. But as separated parents we need to learn to trust that our children will be safe.
Your children could avoid it for months and come down with it right at the end. That could be a year away. Does that justify stopping Dad see your children until after that?
In this troubled time, we all have many sources of stress and anxiety. Loved ones, family, the elderly, work, money, rent, food (loo roll?!). One thing that helps massively is being with those we love most. The one plus side is that the young are the least affected by the virus, we have to make life as varied and enjoyable for them as is possible. A change of scene to see their dad once every few days is a good thing. Please let your kids see their dads. Ask that they follow the government guidelines when they are with him. I would if I could.20 March 2020 at 11:00 pm #38100
Thankyou so much for your reply _ I have asked her dad what he thinks we should do – if it was as simple as having him round to have tea here i wouldn’t hesitate but unfortunately he was aggresive in the past and so i am not able to do that which makes it difficult to facilitate. I am hoping he will offer a sensible suggestion.
Just to clarify the intent is not by any means to stop her seeing her dad, thats why we got a contact order in the first place! more safe environments and not adding risk to his elderly parents (who he currently lives with) and mine who i have had to stop direct contact with (4 days into what could be some time).
I don’t think any of us could forsee this happening in our lifetimes so it makes it doubly difficult to make sure you are doing the right thing not only by the child and her father but by our neighbours, friends and family and preventing the spread. Believe me as a working mum i would have loved to have seen her going for tea with her dad tonight but being in self isolation because of a cough didn’t afford us that luxury today and so another day juggling my job, online schoolwork, tea, a support group and the needs of my active daughter was completed.
How do you view the sharing of the childcare during this lockdown now the schools are closed and each of us as her separated parents work?21 March 2020 at 7:41 am #38108
Yes, it’s not easy. I’d leave it to him to balance the risk of seeing his parents. They could isolate in another room while she’s over and then have a good clean etc before coming back out once she’s gone. I know my parents would happily do that if they lived with me. I’ve heard advice on Radio 2 along those lines for people in isolation allowing engineers/plumbers in to do essential maintenance.
I suggested to my ex that we could switch to the holiday routine from the order as the children aren’t at school. Alternate weeks, but that didn’t go down well to say the least! I’m self employed so could juggle things to make that work. It would mean a massive cut in my earning but I think I could survive financially for a few months, while also allowing her equal time to work. I have a workshop at home so can work from home but it’s not a safe environment for young children so can’t do it while they’re about. It’s a tough one as it’s so dependent on what jobs you have and what flexibility employers are offering. At least the government are sounding like they’ll offer some support to employed workers now.