Covid-19: When Coronavirus is the Final Straw in the Family

For some, the ability to spend quality time with their children and their partner may come as a unexpected benefit of the necessary social distancing rules but for others there are massive implications that come from the government restrictions.

Children that spend time with both parents who are separated

For some families where children spend time with separated parents or where contact is assisted by third parties, the rules have caused confusion and anxiety. This was not helped by initial confusion in terms of mixed advice by the government. Clarification has since been given that a child can go back and forth between households that they usually attend, with those households to be following social distancing rules as is expected.

Now this is all well and good but for others we recognise that where there is no regular arrangement, where families are in limbo as a result of waiting on court proceedings (that may well be delayed due to the limitations of the court) or they are reliant on third parties for transport or assistance in contact, the guidance offers little assistance. In scenarios like these often this is where our assistance is needed, to help communicate and see what safeguards or agreements can be reached. Such advice can be sought via the phone and practical guidance can be given that will give you direction on what is best for the child and all family members involved.

Abuse in the Home

Abuse towards anyone is always reprehensible, but in these times where we are told to stay home, many victims of abuse are facing their abuser all day, every day, with incidents reported to have risen as much as 50%. Whilst the government is pledging funds to assist victims of child and domestic abuse, the impact of abuse is now for all too many.

If you are concerned about a family member or you yourself are at risk of abuse please be reassured that the police and legal services such as solicitors, refuges and the courts remain available to assist. Orders can be put in place to give protection and the government have confirmed that people can relocate to an alternative location for a ‘cooling off’ period which may assist some to seek time with other households if necessary.

In all emergency situations the first port of call should always be to ring 999. Even if the victim cannot speak, by coughing or tapping into the receiver, assistance can be given without talking by listening to an operator. If ringing from a landline, your location is traceable to the police and if calling from a mobile and pressing 55 (a code used from mobiles to Make Yourself Heard) the call will automatically be passed to the police by the operator. The police are then alerted to investigate and give the victim the opportunity to be able to speak without the presence of the other party or parties. Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which can be called for free, and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

In some scenarios the only time a victim is alone is food shopping. If so seek assistance from the store manager, or ring the police if you are able. We are aware that individuals have called for help by ringing the police or abuse helplines whilst simulating the ordering of a pizza.

In terms of steps that solicitors can take, it is possible to seek emergency injunctions via the courts in order to prevent contact between victim and abuser and if necessary other authorities such as social services and domestic violence support can be obtained for you. If those that need assistance, even if you do not wish to discuss why, simply ask to speak to the Nardia Tribe or Amy Hadley and we will assist you, even if it is just us asking questions whilst minimal or coughed responses are given. Help is at hand, no one should face abuse, an in isolation, even more so.

Relationship breakdown

Relationships will face testing times inevitably as part of the current restrictions, when many are simply not used to being in such closed quarters. However others were already having difficulties in their relationship prior to the Coronavirus, and the social distancing measures have simply been the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. So can you separate or divorce during lockdown? The answer is yes. You can be considered separated even whilst living under the same roof of social distancing measures and effectively living separate lives (not looking after each other, washing cooking or sleeping together) but also if the move is considered to be permanent, you can relocate to a friend or family members’ home if necessary.

In terms of knowing what to do next, the Family Team can assist you by phone, or video conferencing as to divorce or separation or agreements as to finances on a permanent or interim basis. We are contactable on 01702352511.

Author: Nardia Tribe