During the first 14 days of lockdown many children were prevented from seeing the other parent. Many parents saw the interest of the children as more important than the danger of being caught by the police. They made a plan to still shift the children from the one parent to the other. In some cases parents implemented the “birdnesting” model where the children stayed in one home and the parents moved back and forth.
On the other hand some parents have withheld and frustrated contact between the child and the other parent. In some cases the children as little as 1 and 2 years old were away from a primary care giver or a parent they almost every day. In other cases siblings were separated and no parenting plan exists. In that matter the chances of the siblings being together is remote unless the parents can come to an amicle agreement that will serve their children.
The impact of this separation between parents and children and siblings have the potential to scar a child for life.
We were inundated by parents that needed to have the children shift according to the court orders in place prior to the implementation of the lockdown. There was huge confusion about what could and could not be done. The courts were also limited by the regulations in assisting children in these situations.
Joy Van Der Heyde, a senior associate at the firm did not take this lightly. She started lobbying with other practitioners and magistrates and then approached the matter at the highest level to get the change done to the regulations.
It is thanks to this lobbying, parents with court orders and parenting plans or agreements registered at the family advocate are now allowed to move children in terms of these documents.
Parents who recently decided to separate or that have not completed the divorce process prior to the lockdown are however not in a better position.
Those parents need to get an interim parenting plan registered at the family advocate or have it made an order of court. This can also prove difficult as most courts are resistant to have the public at the courts as it heightens the danger of spreading the Covid 19 virus.
We can assist those parents as we have access to the courts and family advocate as our attorneys do have travel documents. We are set up to support parents without a parenting plan to draft and register the parenting plan at a reduced rate during the Covid 19 lockdown. Everything can be done online.
In the event of parents not being able to negotiate a parenting plan between themselves, we are available to do mediations on either Skype or Zoom.
We also have access to drivers with permits to collect and drop the original documents.