By Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM)

How does the COVID-19 lockdown impact the holders of parental rights and responsibilities and how does this affect our children? 

Initial Directive:

Initially the directive from the Government in terms of the lockdown was very clear: there was to be a total ban on the movement of children between parental or guardian homes. It was directed that children would remain in the care of the parent in whose care they were at the beginning of the lockdown. 

The Department of Social Development was, however, inundated with calls from parents who have the best interests of their children at heart.

Amendment to the Directive:

In terms of the amendment to the directive, the movement of children between co-holders of parental responsibilities and rights (or a caregiver) during the lockdown period remains prohibitedexcept where arrangements are in place for a child to move from one parent to another, in terms of –

  1. a court order;
  2. where a parental responsibilities and rights agreement or parenting plan, as registered with the family advocate, is in existence, or
  3. the co-holders of the parental responsibilities and rights is in possession of a birth certificate or certified copy of a birth certificate of the child (or children) to prove a legitimate relationship between the child and the co-holder of parental responsibilities and rights;

A FURTHER CONDITION WAS PUT IN PLACE ON 16 APRIL 2020:

  • Provided that in the household to which the child has to move, there is no person who is known to have come into contact, or is reasonably suspected to have come into contact, with any other person known to have contracted, or is reasonably suspected to have contracted, COVID-19.

Precaution:

In order to avoid a fine or arrest, the collecting parent or caregiver transporting the child concerned must have in his or her possession one of the following documents: the court order, the parental responsibilities and rights agreement, the parenting plan or the birth certificate of the child. 

Alternative Interim Communication Methods:

For those parents who are not in possession of any of the aforementioned documentation or where there is a real or suspected COVID-19 contraction, it is highly recommended that both parents continue to keep the best interest of the child in mind by arranging alternative communication between the child and the parent in whose care the child is not. Children should not be alienated from the other parent and there are ways of facilitating communication, for example: telephone calls, WhatsApp messages, SMS’s and WhatsApp video-calls.

At the end of the day parents want the best for their children regardless and even more so during this highly unprecedented and difficult time. Parents are urged to act in the best interest of the child and to have regard to their child’s need to remain in contact with the other parent in their life.

*Legal Hero Policyholders, please contact our offices in respect of any questions or assistance needed in this regard.

Jolané van der Walt (LLB) (LLM) from Legal Hero 

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