Shared Contact during COVID-19

UPDATE 7 April 2020:

There has been much uncertainty about shared contact of children during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country. The Government has released an addendum in which guidelines around the movement of children between homes has been clarified.

“Directions to contain the spread of COVID -19 in exercising the care and contact by persons who are co- holders of parental responsibilities and rights or a caregiver during the lockdown period”
(c) the substitution in subparagraph (m) for items (i) and (ii) of the following items:
“(i) Movement of children between co- holders of parental responsibilities and rights or a
caregiver, as defined in section 1(1) of the Children’s Act,2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), during the lockdown period, is prohibited except where arrangements are in place for a child to move from one parent to another, in terms of-
(aa) a court order; or
(bb) where a parental responsibilities and rights agreement or parenting plan, registered with the family advocate, is in existence, provided that, in the household to which the child is to move, 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;
(ii) The parent of caregiver transporting the child concerned must have in his or her possession the court order or agreement referred to in sub-items (aa) and (bb), respectively, or a certified copy thereof,”.

Full document available at:…/Gaze…/43213_07-04_SocialDev.pdf

As always, reasoning and logical thinking should always be applied. We are in uncharted territory. Focus on the child’s best interests and carefully consider the different environments and risk factors within the two homes, the child’s general health and any underlying conditions. Consider each situation independently.

While lockdown is in progress, opportunities to have contact with the other parent are vital. Face time, WhatsApp video calls, Skype, Zoom, etc can be utilised to ensure that the child can “see” a parent as well as the parent “see” them. With little ones this can be challenging as their attention spans are not very long, so perhaps have 2 calls a day? With older children, there are online games that can also be brought into the contact time in order to spend more time “together”. Once the lockdown is over, parents can make up time with increased contact to even out fair access.

As parents, you have parental rights, but you also have parental responsibilities. It is your responsibility to act in the best interest of your children. Keep them safe, keep them in contact with the other parent and family members, maintain as much as possible social interactions through engaging with friends, etc. We all need to work together to try and “flatten the curve”.

For further guidance, read this post by FAMSA: