We will all now have heard about the new Tier 4 which came into force on 20 December 2020. Tier 4 presently applies to London and much of the South East although the first government review is presently expected to take place on 30 December 2020.
The introduction of a new tier has inevitably, once again confused separated parents who may well now find themselves having to change their Christmas plans and who do not understand what impact this will have on them or the other parent seeing the children.
The government guidance on Tier 4 and how it applies is set out at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-4-stay-at-home. At the time of writing, the guidance states that:
“Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart.”
This therefore creates the exception to the “Stay at Home” guidance, which means that parents can continue to spend time with the children in the usual way, if they do not live in the same household. Therefore, Tier 4 should have no impact on the child arrangements that have been agreed/ordered in respect of the Christmas period.
The rules also allow for travel between tiers where the ‘exceptions’ apply. Again, it appears that an exception is where the travel is in order for parents to be able to continue to spend time with their children, where their children live in a separate household to them. As such movement between Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4 appears to be allowed where it is for the purposes of Child Arrangements.
Do remember that if a child, parent, or member of their household is self-isolating, for whatever reason, then all agreed arrangements for parents to spend time with the children during this period should not take place and those self-isolating should not leave their homes. Should such a situation arise, do consider making alternative arrangements for the children to spend time with the non-resident parent for example ensuring telephone and video contact takes place and potentially try an agree additional time for the children to spend with that parent after their period self-isolating is over.
If you have any queries concerning arrangements for your children, please do remember that we are here for you and will do what it takes to advise you through this period and hopefully make things that little bit easier for you.