Coronavirus and contacts with a childApril 5, 2020
Author: attorney Justyna Plewińska
In connection with the introduced restrictions aimed at combating the spread of the coronavirus, problems appeared - signaled by clients - with contacts with children . These problems result either from the lack of consent of the primary parents to release the children to contacts established with the other parent or from making this consent conditional on showing a negative coronavirus test result.
Parents, who so far cared about making contacts difficult , found the reason for refusing to implement them, believing that the coronavirus would justify their actions. There are also parents who, under normal circumstances, had no problems with making contacts, but the epidemic and the risk of their child becoming infected raise their concern, especially if the other parent is more (e.g. due to their profession) exposed to infection.
What is the issue of contact with the child from the legal point of view?
Currently, there is a general ban on movement within the territory of the country, with four exceptions - the purpose of one of them is to "meet the current needs of everyday life". Undoubtedly, direct contact of a parent with a child is one of the current needs of everyday life - it is always emphasized that a child should have contact with each parent, because it is one of his or her basic needs and it serves his well-being. What is more, the introduced prohibition of movement does not apply to relatives, such as parents and children. Bearing in mind the above, it should be recognized that the restrictions introduced in connection with the coronavirus epidemic do not provide grounds for depriving parents of contacts with children . The above was confirmed in the statement of the Ministry of Justice: "in connection with the emerging questions and doubts during the COVID pandemic - 19 personal contacts with minor children by parents living in separation, the Ministry of Justice emphasizes that all court decisions in this regard apply" ( https: //www.gov.pl/web/sprawiedliwosc/realizacja-sadowych-postanowien-o-kontaktach-z-dziecmi?fbclid=IwAR1qJGBW06aU2pdRHuS5Jc3IiDs2xvW65CnqWKrabuqxtopEEssNrsyJWaA ).
Despite the fact that from the point of view of legal provisions there are generally no restrictions in the implementation of personal contacts between parents and children , additional circumstances should be taken into account, such as the manner in which contacts are regulated and the child's best interests. Well, if, for example, contacts with a child according to court rulings would take place in a public place, such as a playground, then, taking into account the limitations in movement and exclusions from the use of such facilities, it is obvious that contact with the child cannot take place in this specific way. It should be emphasized, however, that parents can agree to change the way of making contacts and, for example, determine that they will be carried out by means of remote communication, or that they will be more frequent after the epidemic has passed.
Quarantine of a parent or child, or the presence of a parent who is entitled to contacts abroad (crossing the border is associated with quarantine) should be treated as a justified obstacle to contacts in the face of the prevailing epidemic.
Summary: how to solve the problem of contact with the child during an epidemic?
It should be emphasized once again that from the point of view of the law there are no restrictions as to the realization of personal contacts with a child. However, it should be pointed out that the priority is always the best interests of the child - the court will negatively evaluate both the unjustified limitation of contacts with the child and the risk of the child's health and life (one may have doubts as to the safety of the child who would meet the parent, e.g. day contact with people suffering from COVID 19 ).
In view of the significant limitations in the functioning of the courts due to the epidemic, it is very unlikely that the problem of contact with a child will be resolved quickly by way of a court ruling. It only remains to appeal to the prudence of parents who currently have to pass one of the most difficult maturity exams.
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