Lockdown update: Divorced parents can share childcare duties

With lockdown measures having restricted South Africans from going about their usual routines, there will be some relief introduced for divorced families, who will now be able to share childcare duties with children able to move between respective homes.

Lockdown measures, of which South Africa has some of the most stringent the world over, seem to be changing on an ad hoc basis at the moment, as the government negotiates some of the teething problems the unprecedented action has experienced.

New rules

In a government gazette published on Tuesday 7 April, new rules stipulate that parents can ferry their children between homes on certain conditions, including:

  • If a court order is in place determining shared custodial responsibilities;
  • Where a parental responsibilities and rights agreement, or a similar parenting plan, is in existence and is in the possession of a family advocate;
  • No one in the home is infected by the COVID-19 disease or can reasonably assume that they have not come into contact with anyone with the virus.
  • The parent transporting the child must have the necessary documents or a copy thereof on their person.

Safe as houses

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu had previously stated that the movement of children between the respective homes of divorced parents was forbidden.

“We have clearly stated that the movement of children during the lockdown period is prohibited … The child shall remain in the custody of the parent they were with when the lockdown was effected.”

“We request that children remain with the primary custody holder and should only be moved with exceptional circumstances. No children should be moved for the duration of the lockdown.”

The move caused an outcry from parents, who had little time to mitigate a plan or make a decision about which home would be more suitable, with both parties in many cases believing that their home was more appropriate than their former spouse’s.

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