Child Arrangements Order divorced parents in the NetherlandsLaatste actualisatie: 13 april 2020
It is always important for children to spend time with both parents. Children of divorced parents also have a right to contact with both parents. It may be very stressful for a child if this contact does not take place. Therefore it is important to look closely into the possibilities. In this situation, at this moment, what is possible and most agreeable and desirable for your children? Make sure to clearly explain temporary changes and arrangements to your children and use similar words. Consult each other on the best ways for both parents to be in contact with the children. Make joint decisions on continuing the usual child arrangements or necessary adaptations.
Try to keep an open mind with regard to the need to change standing arrangements. It is important to have the interests of the child in mind when talking to the other parent, not your rights as a parent to see your children or keep them at home. As parents you will have to accept that the corona virus may change contact with your child. Of course it will be complicated to make up for ‘lost’ time at a later stage. Try not to insist on it. Circumstances beyond your control call on you to make the best of the situation in the interest of your child.
Can the Child Arrangements Order continue?
A Child Arrangements Order in case of divorce can be organised in various ways.
Parents can decide by mutual agreement how to continue the child arrangements during this period. They have to keep to the general advice and the rules of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). It is recommended to limit the number of journeys. So weeklong stays are preferable to changing every few days. This helps to limit the risk of spreading the corona virus.
Court directed arrangements
The court directed arrangements remain in order as ruled. However the family guardian could ask both parents to agree to a different execution of the child arrangements. For instance a video-call with the child instead of a visit. The family guardian does not have to apply to court for such a decision.
Child Arrangements in case of illness
There is no question of spending time when one or more of the people involved are ill. Illness means: coughing or sneezing, a throat ache or tightness of the chest or a fever of more than 38 degrees. The people involved include the child, a parent or other members of the household.
Does one of the parties cough or sneeze, but with a fever of under 38 degrees? Then spending time arrangements can continue, after careful consideration and thorough preparation, if they are of major importance to the child at the time. This situation calls for tailor-made decisions.
Does supported contact continue?
The certified institutions will make efforts to bring children who usually see (one of their) parents accompanied, into contact with their parents one way or another. The policy of many certified institutions is to let accompanied contact take place by means of video calls, telephone or other means of communication in the coming weeks.
In some cases the child will have a need for physical or face to face contact. Physical contact means all real live personal contact with someone at a distance of less than 1,5 metres. This includes touching a person, for instance looking after a child, calming or comforting it. Talking to a person at a distance of less than 1,5 metres is also seen as physical contact. Face to face contact is real live contact with a person at a distance of more than 1,5 metres.
Physical contact or face to face contact are only possible if none of the people involved are ill. Illness means: coughing, sneezing, throat ache, tightness of the chest or a fever of more than 38 degrees. The people involved include the child, a parent or other members of the household.
Alternative ways of contact
When you cannot visit your children or they are unable to come to you, make sure to stay in regular touch. This can take place through more frequent video-call time. You can use for instance WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.
These moments allow you to:
- Chat a few times a day
- Play games
- Read a book/sing songs
- Assist with homework
- Watch television or a movie together
Parent discontinues contact
It is not advisable that a parent stops contact without consulting the other parent. Unfortunately this does sometimes occur. It may be caused by:
- Fear of the risks of the corona virus
- No possibility to travel to the other parent
- One parent was not in favour of the child arrangements before. This parent seizes the opportunity to stop contact.
All those situations call for talking with the other parent with the interest of the child in mind, not your rights as parent to see your child or keep your child at home.
Parents are unable to find a joint solution
Are you unable to make shared decisions about child arrangements during the corona virus? Perhaps a family member or an acquaintance can assist. When this also fails, try to stay calm. Let the situation remain as it is for the time being. Of course you could also call in the assistance of the neighbourhood social team.
Is there a custody ruling in place? Then a change in the child arrangements should always be discussed with the family guardian first.
Kenniscentrum Kind en Scheiding conducts conversations for parents via Zoom. These can also be held in English.