Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

6 posts
RichmondPark
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2020
Options:
Share this post on:

Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby RichmondPark » Thu May 14, 2020 11:26 pm

Hi,

Looking for legal advice.  My partner's job (an academic) is based overseas. He works remotely a lot, but he has to travel when he is teaching. He has a 2.5month teaching stint this autumn - which looks like it will be going ahead F2F. (His location is much less affected by Covid at present than here). Normally he'd commute weekly, but with minimal flight schedules and quarantine, it'll be a 2.5month trip this year.

We have one child together & I have one by my ex (8yrs), who lives with me, going to his father's alternate weekends & 1 overnight during week. 

My partner is extremely concerned that if he leaves me here, when schools go back in Sept, I am at risk of contracting covid and be unable to cope alone. He wants me to come with him for the 2.5months, with one or both children. This is my preferred option too. We would be flexible as to whether the elder son came too, or stayed with his father. Schooling can be arranged locally over this period. I can work remotely.

The issue is that his father won't find either option acceptable.  He does have a fairly long hours job, but is currently working from home, and I would imagine that will continue.  His view is that the logistics of drop offs/pickups is my problem except on one evening and morning a week. For example, he refused to share the burden of lockdown, even though my partner and I both work.

I know he'll run to his lawyer at the prospect of his son going away for 2.5m.

Legally - I know he can stop me taking his son out of the country. - But I'm not trying to do that. I'm saying I intend to go out of the country to protect my family - and he can choose whether my son comes too or stays with him. It is a short-term arrangement in exceptional circumstances, not permanent.

(As background - I am not in an 'at risk' group, but I have a history of severe post-viral syndrome, chronic fatigue and tend be severely knocked out by 'normal' viruses. I have no family back-up - and it might be tricky, given flight restrictions for my partner to return at short notice.)

What's the legal position here?

Thanks.


 
Post Reply
EmmaTVEdwards
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2020
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby EmmaTVEdwards » Mon May 18, 2020 2:20 pm

Hi @RichmondPark I wouldn’t like to give formal legal advice because there are so many nuances that go into a situation like this and I can’t know them from a short post.
 
You are absolutely right that you can’t take 8 abroad without your ex’s agreement. If you acted very quickly you might get permission from a judge before September, but that’s always a last resort in terms of emotional and financial cost. Overall it’d be a lot of disruption for him to stay with your ex. In the best case scenario it would all go smoothly, they would bond more, your ex would take more responsibility going forward (and, of course, you would return safe and well having avoided Covid here). In that circumstance though what if your ex said 8 should start to spend more than the current four nights per fortnight with him once you’re back? Potentially up to half his time there even? Just an example of unintended consequences to bear in mind.

If your ex won’t take him, as you anticipate, then there is the alternative of 8 staying with someone else you trust, I know you said you don’t have family support, but eg best friend’s family or some schools accept short term boarders. Obviously a big ask, but it’s a possibility if it was carefully planned.
 
There are lots of other facets to this that I’m sure you’ve been over in your mind. Of course you want to think about the rest of your family too and they deserve not to be dictated to by your ex. I really feel for you; it is just so tough when the other parent is immovable unless you’re willing to look at court. I’d strongly recommend mediation as a way to discuss the issue with him given communication is difficult. The mediator can’t make a binding decision, but you will each get the chance to air your views and that should include justifying those views, so your ex would be encouraged to engage rather than simply stonewall. No easy answers here though I’m afraid.
 
Post Reply
Greyskies
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2020
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby Greyskies » Mon May 18, 2020 3:07 pm

Hi RichmondPark. 

You are in a difficult position. I can see that it may be in your best interests and that of your younger child to accompany your partner abroad. But I think you have to ask yourself what is in your 8 year olds best interests.

I think your fall back option - leaving him with his father for two and a half months while you go abroad with his sibling - would be damaging for him. You are very much his main carer and he would interpret your departure with his sibling and step father as an abandonment.  This would be even more the case if his father showed that he was reluctant to have him.

Sending him to a relative or to a friend in the UK would be equally damaging as would boarding school in these circumstances.

A long separation from hosfather would also be damaging to their relationship though less so than a separation from you. 

Have you considered accompanying  your partner for a shorter period of time? Does the quarantine period on arrival have to be spent in a hotel?  Or can you go to the family home and quarantine there?   If in the family home you could go out for three weeks or a month rather than 2and a half months. The quarantine regulations for your return to UK have yet to be decided but they are unlikely to insist on 14 days quarantine if you are returning from eg New Zealand where there is no Covid threat.

But in the final analysis I think you and your partner need to recognise that as adults you are better placed to deal with a long separation than your son.




 
Post Reply
RichmondPark
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2020
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby RichmondPark » Tue May 19, 2020 9:23 pm

Many thanks to you both.

It is indeed a tricky situation. - I have to say I can't see of any third party who could plug the gap locally. I don't much like that idea & don't think his father would. 

I appreciate that it would strengthen his case to have him 50/50 afterwards. I wouldn't have a problem with that - although I think it highly unlikely he'd want that.

Also - to clarify - the issue here is absolutely not the separation from my partner. I'm used to him being away for 20 or so weeks a year. 

The issue here is one of how on earth I might cope if I were to fall seriously ill with Covid alone with no support? - Any single parent faces some risk of this - but my health history suggests that is a fairly reasonable possibility.

I know (given some false alarms over recent weeks) that my ex would step back if there were any suggestion of exposure within my home.

I guess if I were hospitalized, social services would kick in. What worries me is that point just below that when you can't even care for yourself, but are alone in the home responsible for 2 kids? - Most people have never experienced that kind of illness. - But anyone who's had severe chronic fatigue will know what I mean...Such that you can barely make it from bed to toilet. No hope of caring for kids...What would I do in that scenario?
Post Reply
SW11er
Posts: 79
Joined: Oct 2015
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby SW11er » Wed May 20, 2020 6:29 am

Don’t you just stay out and god forbid you get ill the respective fathers have to step up at that time?
Post Reply
RichmondPark
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2020
Options:
Share this post on:

Re: Covid - shared parenting - Legal advice

Postby RichmondPark » Wed May 20, 2020 10:32 am

My partner would do his darndest to get home ASAP - but that might be impossible - given it takes 2 flights and in the event of a second wave there would essentially be another near shut down of flights.

The father of the older one would just say 'you're quarantined - your problem'. 

Only once in the past did I have something like this in the past. - I had a severe stomach bug and could barely walk to the front door. I survived because my wonderful childminder extended her hours - so they basically just slept at home for a couple of days. Then my partner was back home. 

With covid the kids would have to be at home with me throughout- so there would be no such back-up.

My view is that it's irresponsible parenting not to have a back-up plan for this situation - esp given my health history. The only backups I can think of are if the child is with his father (where there are 2 adults in the household) or if we go overseas for the period. 
Post Reply