SEPARATED couples using the coronavirus pandemic to stop their ex seeing their child could face court action, a judge has warned.
Family lawyers have been hit by a deluge of calls from bickering parents arguing over contact as Britain remains under lockdown.
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Sir Andrew McFarlane, head of the family courts, has said legal action could be brought against anyone who uses the situation as an excuse to stop children seeing both their parents.
He warned: "If the parents are acting in a cynical and opportunistic manner, then that's wrong, and the courts will regard it as wrong."
The judge urged parents to focus on their children's welfare rather than using the lockdown to further a feud.
He added that a child's safety during the outbreak is a matter of parental judgement – but was clear children should be in touch with both sides.
Sir Andrew said: "Do something you don't want to do, for the sake of your child."
It comes as some parents are exploiting government guidelines on the coronavirus to try and stop their exes seeing their children, reports the BBC.
One dad – a hospital consultant – revealed his partner had suspended all contact during the pandemic except for a short phone call once a fortnight.
He said: "Sadly, I won't be the only parent subject to this manipulative interpretation of the current guidance."
Another dad – also a key worker – said his partner had stopped visits from his son due to the "high risk" of him catching the virus even though he works from home.
He said: "I totally understand the fear and worry of any parent if your loved ones are in contact with somebody who is a key worker, but that shouldn't be a reason to punish you."
Meanwhile in the US, coronavirus medic Dr Theresa Greene lost custody of her daughter, 4, due to her "heightened exposure" to Covid-19.
Samantha Woodham, a family law barrister and co-founder of the Divorce Surgery, said she has been "overwhelmed" with calls from parents about the lockdown.
Ms Woodham has called for clearer rules on what parents should do when arranging visits during the lockdown – even as simply as changing the guidelines wording from "can" to "should".
She said: "Being told that children 'should' move between homes would actually really help parents in this time of uncertainty."
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Michael Gove caused confusion when England announced its lockdown last month – contradicting himself while appearing on Good Morning Britain and BBC Breakfast.
Mr Gove said children should remain in the household they are currently in while appearing on ITV.
And then when showing up on BBC Breakfast, he said children under the age of 18 could move between homes.
He was forced to clarify that children can move between households to see both their parents.
Britain remains under lockdown as the coronavirus figures continue to climb, with the death toll rising by 828 today bringing the total to more than 17,000.
It is hoped soon measures may be eased to get the UK moving again, but the cabinet is divided amid fears of a second wave.
Meanwhile, it emerged NHS Nightingale has reportedly turned away more patients than it has treated.
And Britain is expected to begin human testing of an experimental vaccine in bid to beat the coronavirus.
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