The Government has announced social gatherings in England will be limited to a maximum of six people, otherwise known as the ‘Rule of Six’. This means that when meeting up with friends or family that you do not live with, you cannot be in a group of more than six people at one time. These new rules apply to both indoor and outdoor gatherings, including in private homes, venues such as restaurants and cafes, and outdoor spaces such as parks. There are some very limited exceptions including for weddings, funerals, schools, or gatherings for work purposes.
The rules apply to both adults and children, and where babies or children are part of the group they will need to be included in the total. For larger families where one parent does not live with the children, or where contact needs to be supervised, you may be concerned that you or your ex-partner will be unable to spend time with the children in the same way while the ‘Rule of Six’ is in place, or your ex-partner may be attempting to reduce or restrict your contact with the children as a result.
The official guidance however states that where necessary to ‘continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents’, families would be allowed to break the ‘Rule of Six’. This means that if contact arrangements require for a group larger than six to gather, this would constitute a valid exception to the rule and those involved will be protected from being penalised because of contact going ahead.
If you are concerned about arrangements for your children during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to agree temporary alternative measures with your ex-partner. If contact with one parent is reduced, it’s important that the resident parent takes steps to maintain the relationship between the non-resident parent and the children, for example by video or telephone contact. If an agreement cannot be reached, and you have a Child Arrangements Order in place, you could make an application to vary the order. If there is no order in place, and your ex-partner is preventing you from spending time with your children, you may wish to apply for a Child Arrangements Order.
At Ellisons, we remain committed to helping you during these difficult times and are able to offer initial appointments by telephone. If you would like to talk to one of our family lawyers, please get in touch.