In addition to custody rights, access rights are a key issue that must be regulated for the benefit of the child. This is because the right to see the child regularly is inevitably linked to the child’s well-being and advancement. Also, the change in life situation for the child and the associated psychological stresses, such as those caused by the separation and divorce of the parents, can be softened by still maintaining contact with both parents.
A mutually agreed solution between the parents within a contact agreement can create clarity for all concerned. Here, it is important to establish contact dates and their duration over a longer period of time in a fair and unmistakable manner, based on the best interests of the child and the interests of the parents.
There are numerous options for structuring such contact agreements. The traditional form of contact is the residence model. In this case, the child has a permanent residence with one parent and only visits are planned with the other parent. In contrast, the alternating model provides for the child to reside equally with both parents in turn. In the meantime, increasingly parents are also choosing the nest model. Here, a family home remains as a “nest” for the children, where they have their permanent residence, while the parents take turns staying with the children.
In the current corona period, the question arises of what happens to access agreements that have been made. In particular, curfews can present difficulties in the realization of the right of access. It may be questionable whether contact can be denied because of these barriers.
The answer is no, because relatives in a straight line, i.e. fathers or mothers, may continue to spend time together with their children in public and, of course, also at home. A potential risk of infection does not justify a refusal of personal contact. Even the mere suspicion or allegation that the child may be infected with the virus is not sufficient to suspend contact. However, if the parent with access rights demonstrably ignores the applicable distance rules and does not restrict social contacts, he or she is also endangering the child. In such a case, the mother/father can stop contact. Mere suspicion or allegation is not sufficient for this, though.