Allowed travel Child visitation rights protected during Level 5, says District Court president
The visitation rights of parents to their children are protected during the current pandemic travel restrictions, said Judge Colin Daly, president of the District Court.
During the current Level 5 restrictions, some parents whose children are the subject of Access Orders of the District Court may be concerned that they cannot fulfil the terms of these orders safely, he said.
But even where there is a court order on access, parents are responsible for making decisions regarding the safety of their children, saidthe judge.
“Parents are reminded how important access with their other parent is to your children.
“Access ordered by the District Court must be facilitated unless it causes a real and substantial risk to a child’s health or safety.
“It is important to remember that travel restrictions do not apply to access visits, this is not a reason to stop access over this period of greater restriction,” he said.
Parents should also remember that travel for children between households can mean greater risk to the child or to other vulnerable family members.
“You should be able to take a common approach between your two households to public health guidelines to make lives easier and safer for your children and your families.
“Discuss with each other what the new and increased level of restrictions will mean for you and your children,” he said.
He warned that parents should ensure access continues “wherever possible” and that court orders are followed and there may be”serious consequences” if a parent is found not to be supporting access as ordered with the other parent.
“If it is not safe to continue access as ordered, then try to agree what access can happen safely. If you can both agree an alternative, then it is OK to do this until the level of restrictions falls back again,” he said.
A note in writing of any agreement should be kept, he added.
While phone calls and video chats are ways of keeping contact,children may have a short attention span for these activities.
Where help is needed, the Legal Aid Board's family mediation services remain open and are free, with no payment required. Mediation can help resolve issues with parenting plans, access andmaintenance.