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Firm sees enquiries about child arrangements almost double in a month

An increase in disputes over co-parenting arrangements is set to hit the courts due to parents withholding contact because of the lockdown, a law firm is warning. Irwin Mitchell says that it has seen enquiries about child contact cases almost double in June 2020, compared to May. 

After the lockdown was implemented in the middle of March, the Government was quick to clarify that children could move between their parents' households in order to allow the child to spend time with both parents.

Unfortunately, says Irwin Mitchell, some parents used the lockdown as an excuse to withhold contact from the co-parent, even when there was a court-mandated child arrangement order in place.

Emily Hugo, a Family Law solicitor at Irwin Mitchell's Manchester office, said:

"Our enquiries are showing that there has been a big increase in disputes between parents, with the majority citing the lockdown as the key reason for any discord.

"Many of those getting in touch are now looking to revisit arrangements with their ex-partner, or get a formal arrangement for the first time, after a parent has sadly withheld contact, using the lockdown as the reason. This is despite the Government making it clear pre-existing arrangements should continue.

"It's common for parents to want to revisit their co-parenting situation after a parent has withheld contact. What is unusual at the moment is that this is happening in a significant number of households as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

"I hope that now lockdown is easing and  normality is returning, parents will be more willing to allow their children to travel and stay at the co-parents' house. However, for those in particularly difficult situations where their co-parent has withheld contact parents may still not be seeing their children."

For an article on the issue recently published by Family Law Week, click here.