The Scottish Courts issued updated COVID-19 Guidance on Compliance with Court Orders Relating to Parental Responsibilities and Rights on 7th January 2021.  

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New guidance from the Scottish Government around Coronavirus came in to effect from 5 January 2021. By law, you must now stay at home. You may only leave your home or garden for an essential purpose. If leaving home for an essential purpose, you should travel and remain close to home as much as possible. A list of reasonable excuses to leave home is available on the Scottish Government website here.

There has always been an exception, to stay at home restrictions, for children who move between homes because their parents are not living together. It is still, therefore, a reasonable excuse for an adult or child to leave their home and, if necessary, travel out of their local authority area, for the purposes of shared parenting.

This means that if parents or carers live in different homes and normally take turns to look after their children, they can keep doing this. Court orders and formal arrangements should be stuck to, unless there can be an agreement between parents or those with parental rights and responsibilities to vary these arrangements.

If parents/carers have a more informal arrangement, the court guidance says they should discuss how best to approach the situation and make a decision on whether a child is to move between homes after assessing the circumstances.

It might not be possible for contact to keep happening the way it usually does. In this situation the courts expect that regular contact should be arranged and maintained through alternative means, for example by changing venue or using Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom or through telephone calls.

It is not unusual for people not to be able to agree about the best way to arrange contact between children and their family members. If the issue of contact is raised in court, the court will look for evidence that everyone has tried to follow the guidance as much as possible in the circumstances. At the moment, the court is taking on urgent and non-urgent cases.

If you are unsure about your situation you can contact Clan Childlaw by free phone on 0808 129 0522, by email to [email protected]

You can send us an enquiry on our website or reach us through Facebook messenger.

The Scottish Courts' statement is here: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Orders. All updates about Scottish Courts during Covid-19 are found here. Clan Childlaw has written a Courts Update explaining which court cases are going ahead at the moment here.

The Scottish Government's website has a page on Shared Parenting during Coronavirus here


This is intended as a guide on these issues only, as at January 2021 and should not be taken as an authoritative statement and interpretation of the law. If you have any questions or would like further information please call 0808 129 0522 or email [email protected]