Now that the coronavirus has also broken out in the Netherlands, the worries of many parents are increasing. As a parent you may now come across a couple of questions. Is your child still allowed to go to your ex? Can you keep your child at home even if he or she should be with mum or dad this weekend? Can you demand to see your children if your ex-partner wants to keep them at home now because of the corona crisis? This is of course a very special situation for everyone that we have never experienced before, so this raises questions for all of us without clear answers.
The principle of our law is that a child and a parent have the right to associate with each other. Therefore, the parents are often bound to an agreed contact arrangement. However, we are living in exceptional times now. We have not experienced anything like this before, as a result of which there are no unequivocal answers to the above questions. In the current circumstances it is important to assess what is best for your children based on reasonableness and fairness for each specific situation.
What happens when a complete lockdown is announced in the Netherlands? Does the agreed contact arrangement still apply?
At this moment the answer to this question is not clear yet. When we take Spain as an example, we see that there (despite the lockdown) it is allowed for the parents to continue applying the contact arrangement. So it is explicitly allowed for the parents in Spain, for example, to pick up the children or bring them to the other parent. In the Netherlands there are currently no specific rules regarding the contact arrangements during the coronavirus.
Is the coronavirus a valid reason to not allow your child to go to the other parent?
According to RIVM guidelines, everyone should stay at home as much as possible, avoid social contacts and keep a distance of one and a half meters from others. It is conceivable that you do not want to let your child go to the other parent because he or she has, for example, been in a high-risk area or has a profession in the healthcare sector which increases the risk of him or her becoming infected with corona.
However, it is not allowed to use the coronavirus as an ‘excuse’ to impede contact between your children and the other parent. Even in this exceptional situation, you are obliged to encourage contact between your children and the other parent as much as possible. However, it is important that you keep each other informed if, for example, your children show symptoms of illness. If it is not possible for you to pick up and bring the children during this special period, you can temporarily agree on alternative ways to let the contact take place as much as possible. For example, you can think of extensive contact via Skype or Facetime.
What can you do if the other parent refuses your contact with your child?
In this exceptional period, it is difficult to enforce the contact arrangement, as long as the measures of the RIVM are in force. That is why it is wise to consult with the other parent and determine together what is best for your children’s health, but also for your own health. If mutual consultation does not help you, you can also call in the help of a lawyer. Normally, in such a case an interlocutory procedure could be started in order to enforce the contact through a lawyer. However, the question is whether you can start a procedure for this under the current circumstances. During this exceptional period the courts are closed and only urgent cases are handled. As soon as the measures concerning the coronavirus have been lifted and the other parent continues to frustrate the contact, you can call in a lawyer to enforce the contact. The lawyers of Law & More can assist you in this process! During the coronavirus measures you can also contact the lawyers of Law & More for a consultation with your ex-partner. Our lawyers can ensure that you can reach an amicable solution together with your ex-partner.
Do you have a question about the contact arrangements with your child or would you like to have a conversation with your ex-partner under the supervision of a lawyer in order to reach an amicable solution? Feel free to contact Law & More.