New guidance was issued at the end of last week regarding compliance with court orders relating to Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs).
Published by the Lord President on Thursday 16 July 2020, the updated guidance provides a clear update to those parents, and carers, who have children who are the subject of a court order relating to Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs), for example, contact or residence orders. The guidance comes as lockdown rules have been eased by the Scottish Government, and there is no longer a general stay at home requirement in place.
Court orders or parenting agreements should now be adhered to
Effectively, the guidance states that if there is a court order (or other formal agreement in place – such as a parenting agreement) that the arrangements should now be adhered to as recorded. This guidance will be particularly helpful for those, where, despite a court order (or other formal agreement) being in place, contact has not been taking place since lockdown began.
The guidance accepts that whilst a parent or carer may be concerned about Coronavirus because of their child moving between households, that this should not prohibit court orders from being adhered to, and therefore contact from taking place. The guidance advises that given the current pandemic, that communication between parties is key.
It is also somewhat of a warning to those who may seek to use the current pandemic as a ground for withholding contact despite there being no real reason to do so. Where a court order is not adhered to, and the court is asked to make a determination in light of this, the court will consider whether all parties have acted “reasonably and sensibly in all of the circumstances of the case, and the Government guidance at the time”.
The onus will be on those not-complying with court orders to show reasonable, and sensible reasons for their non-compliance
Therefore, it would appear that where parents or carers are not complying with court orders they will need to show reasonable, and sensible reasons for their non-compliance. The onus will therefore be on those not-complying, and will hopefully go some way to ensuring contact is taking place as per the court orders.
Where court orders continue to be ignored, matters can now be heard by the courts as they are dealing with matters remotely (and in person where required) and cases involving children are to be given priority.