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Shared parenting during coronavirus

What if my partner or ex-partner and I both look after our children but live in separate homes?

If you and your partner live in separate homes but take turns to look after your children, you can continue to do this. If there is a court order or formal agreement in place, you should try to stick to the arrangements it sets out. The Lord President has issued guidance on compliance with court orders. (click on ‘Updated Guidance on Compliance with Court Orders relating to Parental Responsibilities and Rights 16.07.20’). This is still the case even as restrictions tighten.

If you have a more informal arrangement with your partner or ex-partner, you’ll need to discuss what’s best for your kids. The guidance issued by the Lord President is also helpful to follow when considering whether informal arrangements should be changed. When you’re travelling between homes, try to avoid public transport if you can and stay 2 metres away from other people. If you do use public transport, remember that you and any children over 5 need to wear a face covering.

If it's not possible to have face to face contact, for example, if either household has symptoms, you should try and maintain regular contact virtually using, for example, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype.

You can find information on the latest guidance around meeting up with other households here.

If we live on our own, can we both have extended households?

Some people are now able to form an extended household with another family or person who they don’t live with. To form an extended household, at least one of the two households must only have one adult living in it.

You, and your child’s other parent, can each form an extended household separately. Your child can be part of both extended households as long as they’re under 18, and as long as you and their other parent lives alone, or only with children under 18. The household with whom each of you forms an extended household with cannot already be part of another extended household. Our page on extended households has more information.

Where can I go for information and help?

The Scottish Government are unable to provide individual advice. Most organisations are still offering support over the phone, by email or information is available on their websites.

ClanChildlaw provides free legal services for children and young people. The Clan Childlaw helpline offers information about how the law affects children and young people in Scotland. Their phone number is 0808 129 0522.

Grandparents Apart UK provides support to grandparents and is dedicated to help grandparents keep in touch with their grandchildren. Further information is available on their website.

Parentline Scotland provides advice to families. Further information is available on their website.

Relationships Scotland provides support to parents who live apart through their mediation, Parenting Apart and child contact centre services. Further information is available on their website.

If you have concerns about domestic abuse, please contact the Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline which is 0800 027 1234. Webchat and email support is also available.

The Scottish Child Law Centre also provides advice and information about children’s rights and child law. Please email if you have any queries. If you are a child or young person under the age of 21 there is a helpline – free from a mobile 0300 330 1421 or from a landline 0800 328 8970.

You may want to speak to Shared Parenting Scotland. Their phone number is 0131 557 2440.

If you have an ongoing court case you can find up-to-date information on the Scottish Courts & Tribunals website about court closures and court business generally.