Testing Times for Separated Families

The pandemic has raised significant issues for separated parents who have had to struggle with making decisions for their children, often in the face of objection or disagreement from their ex-partner.

Under the Children Act 1989 the holders of parental responsibility cannot make unilateral decisions for their children. That is to say, they should not make decisions without the other parents’ consent.

The pandemic has meant parents have had to consider;

  • Can a child move between two households during lockdown?
  • If the child is home schooling, which parent should be responsible for that and can normal contact arrangements continue?
  • If the parents live a significant distance from one another, should the parent travel to the child’s’ local area for contact to avoid the child having to travel unnecessarily, if so what happens if the hotels and local amenities are closed?
  • If vaccination is extended for children, can the parents agree the child should receive the vaccination?
  • Now the most pressing decision is what should happen during the school holidays, can the children travel abroad?

Most families share the school holidays and often the only factor they have to consider is that the time falls within their allocated time with their child, so as not to fetter the other parents time. Or whether sufficient information has been shared with the other parent about hotel details, travel arrangements etc.

Now the government task force is due to report on 17 May and only then will parents know the exact rules for overseas travel regarding tests and jabs.

If all goes to plan parents will be able to go abroad from 17 May but that will not be the end of the matter.

COVID-19 tests with a negative result taken hours before travel will almost certainly be required for all those returning to the UK.

What happens, therefore, if you are returning at the end of a half term week or the end of the summer holidays, when the child has to go back to school? Should you run the risk of being stuck in a foreign country, unable to return if you or your child has a positive test result? A decision that will impact the child’s education.

What happens if one parent plans to go on their holiday the day after the other parent returns from their summer holiday? The second parent will be unable to go if the child is stuck and cannot return to the UK, or is having to quarantine.