Co-parenting during lockdown

A child who is a bearer of rights is entitled to have both parents in their lives even in the midst of the unusual times we are living in, in light of Covid-19 across the globe. Careful consideration has been given in aid of co-parenting during lockdown period and the Department of Justice encourages parents with joint custody to negotiate in the best interest of the child. The best interest of a child is enshrined in our Constitution and thus each child is protected by section 28(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, being the paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

Many South African parents are pleased and relieved with the announcement made by the South African minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, of the amendment to current lockdown regulations which permits children to be moved between co-parents who have joint custody provided that certain legal requirements are met as per the new amendment signed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu. The amendment stipulates that the co-parent or primary care-giver are allowed to transport the child or children concerned, subject to having in his or her possession, while transporting the child, the signed and dated court order or the parental responsibilities and rights agreement or parenting plan registered with the family advocate. Furthermore, the aforementioned documents may be the certified valid copies duly commissioned by a commissioner of oaths as well as a birth certificate that connects the parents to the child. The amendment importantly provides that the child may only be permitted in the household to which the child is to move, provided that there is no person who is known to have come into contact with, or is reasonably suspected to have come into contact with, a person known to have contracted, or reasonably suspected to have contracted, Covid-19.

The Department of Justice and Polices hereby pleads and encourages co-parents to work with them to ensure that the procedure to move the children is done in a smooth manner and by respecting and adhering to the lockdown regulations. Co-parents ought to should place their child’s health, safety and best interests first and not further their own interests at the expense of their child’s interests. Co-parents are encouraged to maintain the regular communication with their children, by exercising their contact rights and duly working together as co-parents to undertake to be reasonable, fair and flexible by exploring alternative methods such as video call, skype, telephone calls for mutual communication taking into consideration the best interest of the children at all times.

Article written by: Etricia September
(Candidate Attorney: Kim Armfield and Associates)

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