The national lockdown announcement, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, brought about many challenges to our daily lives. During the lockdown period we are all confined to our households, unless you are the holder of an essential services permit or are obtaining essential goods, seeking urgent medical attention or collecting social grants.
For children being raised by parents in separate households this initially caused many complications directly after the lockdown commenced on 27 March 2020. Despite parents having co-parental rights and responsibilities and the right to contact with their minor children the first directives that were published prohibited the movement of children between separate households of parents during the lockdown period. At the time, the purpose of this prohibition was to ensure that children were not exposed to any possible infection when moving between households. Therefore, children had to remain with the parent in whose care they were in at the time of the commencement of the lockdown period for the entire duration of the period.
On Tuesday, 7 April 2020 the Minister of Social Development amended the above directives to now permit minor children to travel from the household of one parent to another in certain instances thereby relaxing the first directives issued.
The amended directives state that the children can move between the households of parents or caregivers only in the following instances: where arrangements are made in terms of an existing court order (examples of such Court Orders would be a decree of divorce incorporating contact arrangements, a Rule 43 (1) or (6) interim Court Order stipulating contact arrangements, a Children’s Court Order setting out contact arrangements or an Urgent Court Order setting out contact arrangements) or where there is a parenting plan or agreement in place which is registered at the office of the family advocate. A further important condition that applies is that the household to which the children are being moved must not have any occupants that have come into contact with, or any occupants who are reasonably suspected to have come into contact with someone who is known to have contracted COVID-19 or someone who is reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19. These conditions attached to the amended directives indicate that protecting minor children from contracting COVID-19 remains a priority for government.
When transporting the children from one household to another the parent or caregiver is required to have in their possession an original or certified copy of the court order or parenting plan confirming that contact arrangements are or have been regulated by way of a court order or parenting plan prior to the commencement of the lockdown period.
UPDATE ON THE MOVEMENT OF CHILDREN BETWEEN HOUSEHOLDS – 16 APRIL 2020
Regulations published on 16 April 2020 now state that parents can transport their children between households with their birth certificates or a certified copy of a birth certificate as an alternative to a court order or parenting plan as previously required. For more information please contact Moya Rossouw on email@example.com.
Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only and does not intend to or purport to serve as formal legal advice. It is advised that you seek legal advice relating to your specific circumstances before relying solely on the content of this article. This article may be updated from time to time to reflect the latest legal developments, legislation or judgments which may become applicable to these directives in future. Both the author of this article as well as Greyvensteins Inc. do not take responsibility for any errors or omissions with respect to the content of this article due to the effluxion of time or the upliftment of the lockdown period.