What are the rules about crossing Alert Level borders when sharing custody of children?
Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and parts of Waikato are currently at Alert Level 3, while the rest of the country remains at Alert Level 2. For whānau living within and across these boundaries, navigating shared care arrangements can be a difficult and sometimes daunting task.
Is travel across boundaries allowed?
The Government has now made clear that children can travel across an Alert Level boundary to visit or stay at the home of a shared caregiver under Alert Level 2 and 3 restrictions. They may be accompanied by a member of either household to or from the home of the other shared caregiver. Permitted travel for shared care purposes includes travel:
- into or through Auckland or Waikato from an Alert Level 2 region
- out of Auckland or Waikato to an Alert Level 2 region
- within or between Auckland or Waikato, and
- through Auckland and Waikato to access another Alert Level 2 region.
General guidance on shared-care arrangements during COVID-19
To keep your whānau safe, the following key rules should always be applied when co-parenting under Alert Level 2 and 3 restrictions:
- Keep a 2 metre distance from caregivers outside of your immediate household at handover.
- Use private vehicles to travel to other households, avoid public transport and stops between destinations where possible.
- Try to have only one adult from your bubble accompany tamariki between households.
- Ensure you keep evidence of your travel on you, including evidence of your principal place of residence and any written parenting agreement or order (if you have one), when picking up or dropping off children from your bubble.
- When children are in your care allow them to keep in regular contact with their other parent/caregivers via video calls, phone calls and messenger apps where possible.
If you will be travelling from the Auckland part of the Alert Level 3 area into the Waikato part of the Alert Level 3 area or into an Alert Level 2 area for shared care purposes, you and any child (over 12) must have had a COVID-19 test within the last 7 days.
You must carry proof of this test when travelling. A text message that confirms completion of a test will be sent to you, which can be shown as evidence. Paper confirmation will also be available from testing centres that do not use the automated system, for example GP practices.
If you cannot have a COVID-19 test you are permitted to alternatively provide a medical certificate confirming you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and, for a particular physical or other need, are unable to have a COVID-19 test.
Unite Against Covid-19 Website “Shared Custody and Childcare” – https://covid19.govt.nz/activities/shared-custody-and-childcare/#childcare-at-Alert-level-3
Unite Against Covid-19 Website “List of permitted personal travel across an Alert Level boundary” – https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/permitted-travel-at-different-Alert-levels/personal-travel-across-an-Alert-level-boundary/list-of-permitted-personal-travel-across-an-Alert-level-boundary/#collecting-or-accompanying-others
Ministry of Justice Website “Guidance for managing shared parenting during COVID-19 Alert Levels” – https://www.justice.govt.nz/about/news-and-media/covid-19-news/guidance-for-managing-shared-custody/
WRMK Lawyers takes all reasonable care to make sure that the information in this article is up-to-date and accurate at today’s date. It is necessarily general information and not intended as legal advice to be relied upon.
Our thanks to Kezia Purdie for writing this article.