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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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Peter Jones
Founder, Jones Myers
6:30 PM 19th March 2020

Separated Parents Urged To Put Differences Aside For Their Children In Unprecedented Times

As schools across Yorkshire and Lancashire shut down, as a practising family lawyer I am urging divorced and separated parents to work together for the best interests of their children in these extraordinary times.

It is important to try and understand and empathise with the practical and emotional challenges facing everyone as the coronavirus crisis continues and advice about social isolation measures is stepped up.

It is especially important for divorced and separated parents to work together for the best interests of their children who will also understandably feel nervous and apprehensive.

The severe situation may present particular challenges with children’s routines due to school closures, the nature of their parents’ work - or if a parent or child have been diagnosed with the virus and need to self isolate.

Parents are also aware that grandparents, who have historically played a major role in childcare, are in the virus’s highest risk category.

My practice receiving calls from concerned parents about their children’s welfare and advising they keep updated with the developments from official authorities such as schools and health care professionals.

I would like to offer the following practical advice to estranged parents:

Stay calm and collected, put aside your differences and agree a plan of action which ensures your children’s health, wellbeing and interests come first.
Be flexible and open minded about changes in parenting time and work together to find a workable solution
In particular, agree a plan of action if one of you or the children are required to self isolate. This includes keeping in touch by FaceTime, texts or post cards
In the above cases, agree on what you will tell your children and explain and keep them up to date on how the other parent is affected.
Continue to tell your children that you both love them very much and keep explaining why their routine may have to change
Listen to them and try to avoid passing your anxieties onto them - children are highly sensitive and will become more unsettled if they pick up their parents’ concerns.

Working together in a mutual spirit of cooperation and collaboration is crucial to ensure the needs and sensitivities of children remain a priority throughout - and beyond - these extraordinary circumstances.