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National Lockdown No. 3 – What does it mean for your child arrangements?

As we move into the country’s third national lockdown, you might find that you’re more familiar with the rapid changes to our daily routine than previously in March 2020.

However, for some parents who have only more recently separated from their partner and find themselves navigating new child arrangements for the first time, it might be helpful to be reminded of the key parts of the Government’s message when it comes to arrangements for your children.

Firstly, the message of ‘Stay at Home’ doesn’t prevent a child moving between two separate households for the purposes of visiting another parent or guardian. Specifically, the regulations allow you to meet others from outside your household, “for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians”.

Of course, this might not be possible in circumstances where a parent/guardian or child is isolating and everyone is advised to familiarise themselves with the guidance on self-isolation and keep updated with the advice from the Government and NHS.

One difference from the first lockdown in March 2020 is also that the Government now permits the use of a ‘childcare bubble’, which might offer a much-needed source of support and assistance for the purposes of childcare.

The full advice from the Government can be found here, but in summary:

  • If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a ‘childcare bubble’. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.
  • A childcare bubble is where one household links with one other household to provide informal childcare to anyone under 14. All adults in both households must agree to this arrangement.
  • ‘Informal’ childcare means it is unpaid and unregistered.
  • Members of either household can provide childcare in a home or public place. This includes overnight care.
  • You can only have one childcare bubble with one other household. This means no household should be part of more than one childcare bubble.
  • You can only use a childcare bubble for childcare. You cannot use a childcare bubble to mix with another household for other reasons.
  • If you form a childcare bubble, it’s best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.

The Government have recently issued new guidance for people who are shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19, you can read it here.

If you are concerned about the arrangements for your children in circumstances where a parent, guardian, child or member of a support bubble is clinically vulnerable/shielding you should try to talk to the other parent as soon as possible to see if an alternate arrangement for the children can be agreed for now. We have previously written about the guidance from the President of the Family Division, which you can find here.

If you are unable to reach an agreement you might benefit from additional legal advice. Our Family Law team would be happy to talk through your options, please email or call us today on 0113 227 9285.


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Charlotte Gannon

Associate Solicitor
Family Law
0113 322 2852
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Charlotte Gannon Blacks Solicitors LLP