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'The judge ruled that the child stays where it is at the time of lockdown'

26 March 2020 5:09 PM
Tags:
Divorce
single parents
21-day lockdown
visitation rights
Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa
CMDSA
CMDSA founder Felicity Guest comments on the lack of clarity around parent's visitation rights during the lockdown period.

With the clock ticking down to the start of South Africa's 21-day lockdown, there is still no clear directive on the position of divorced or separated parents when it comes to visitation rights.

It's becoming clear that children will not be able to move between parents during this period.

John Maytham speaks to Felicity Guest, founder of Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa (CMDSA), which aims to empower, educate and support single parents.

She confirms that at this stage it seems there is no recourse for a parent who wants court visitation rights enforced.

Guest reports that a precedent-setting case was brought before the Gauteng High Court on an urgent basis. (Guest mistakenly said Durban but the case was in Johannesburg.)

The judge ruled categorically that this is uncharted territory and the child stays where it is at the time of lockdown.

Felicity Guest, Founder - Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa

But what is going to be considered urgent at the courts now? Right now, the focus is on responsibility of every single citizen... the parents being responsible for their children's wellbeing which is in the Children's Act, and that is to keep the child safe and the outlines are the Disaster Act.

Felicity Guest, Founder - Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa

Guest says it is best for parents to accept the restrictions and for the primary caregiver to be generous with the amount of contact allowed using technology.

... whether it's video, skyping, whatsapp messages, phone calls - just be considerate, because the other parent is going through their own emotional response to this.

Felicity Guest, Founder - Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa

We all just have to be compassionate towards each other.

Felicity Guest, Founder - Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa

She also cautions that whatever a parent's behaviour during lockdown, it can be held against them in court later through litigation.

Listen to the complete conversation in the audio below:


26 March 2020 5:09 PM
Tags:
Divorce
single parents
21-day lockdown
visitation rights
Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa
CMDSA

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