Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has amended the co-parenting regulations under The Disaster Management Act that previously did not allow for children to be moved in between the homes of co-parents. However, even with the new amendment in action, it does not apply to all co-parents.
According to the new amendment, co-parents can now move their children in between homes only if they have a court order or if they have a parenting plan registered with the family advocate.
The previous regulation stated that children could not move in between homes – to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Furthermore, the new amendment allows for kids to move only if parents have legal documents and if the household they are moving to does not have a Covid-19-infected person or persons showing symptoms of the virus or persons suspected to have contracted the virus.
For the parents to transport children from one home to another, they must carry with them a court order or copies stating the court agreement. Co-parents who do not have a court order are prohibited from moving any child without the required documentation.
The amendment still prohibits co-parents who have no court order from moving kids between their residences, and it has left many co-parents in difficult positions as this regulation poses a threat to the way they function.
Speaking to Move!, new mom Mandy Mgadi, who has a month-old daughter, says, “Being a mother to this little one is a blessing but I feel like it came at the wrong time. I’m struggling to buy baby clothes, as I bought limited clothes while pregnant, and my child’s father has not been able to visit my daughter since the lockdown started as he doesn’t have a permit to travel.
“Can you imagine how sad it is not being able to see your own daughter who is new to this world?”
Mandy adds that the father of her child is supposed to be assisting her during the sleepless nights and take the child for her first injection but, unfortunately, that is all impossible now.
Another parent who finds herself in a difficult predicament is Cape Town mother Lerato Jacobs*.
“My daughter is moving between homes at the moment. However, it is risky as her father and I applied for a court order but we haven’t received it.”
Lerato shares that since the lockdown started, her daughter goes to her father for one week and she spends the other week at her family home. She does this so neither parent may feel as if they are not spending enough time with the child even though it is not allowed.
As Easter is usually reserved for families to spend time together, she admits that she fears travelling without the court order as this is a difficult time in which to co-parent, and she does not want the other parent to feel they do not have access to their child.
“Before the lockdown was implemented, I had to explain to my daughter what the Covid-19 virus was all about – she stays indoors, washes her hands constantly and knows the correct way to cough.”
Lerato says, however, this is not enough to make her daughter understand why she cannot be with her father.
She says: “Before sending my daughter off to her dad, I make sure to find out that no one that stays with him is sick otherwise I will not send her off to see him.”
She tells us that the good thing about co-parenting is that none of them is being stubborn as both parents want to spend equal time with their child even in this difficult time.
Not being able to spend time with your child during this national lockdown may be difficult, but there are various ways parents can stay in contact with their children.
The parent who does not have access to the child during this period can use telephonic and digital tools to stay in contact such as video-calling and phone calls.
Parents can use applications such as WhatsApp, Skype or any other social communication app that allows them to communicate. This will ease the burden of not being able to see their kids in person.
*Names have been changed to protect identity of parents