Our expert says:
Family law expert
In terms of Section 19 (1) of the Children's Act, a mother obtains full parental responsibilities and rights by virtue of the fact that she has given birth to the her child, regardless of her marital status. In terms of Section 23 (4) of the Children's Act, parental responsibilities can only be taken away by a court order. Section 23 (1) of the Act stipulates that any person having an interest in the care, well-being or development of a child may apply to the High Court or the children's court for an order granting to the applicant on such conditions as the court may deem necessary 1. contact with the cild; or 2. care of the child. The court must then consider what are in the best interests of the child, what the relationship the applicant has with the child, the degree of commitment that the applicant has shown towards the child, the extent to which the applicant has contributed towards expenses in connection with the maintenance of the child or any other fact that should be taken into account. Remember that it is the functionality and not the structure of the family that predetermines parental capacity to socialise children adequately. Placement of a child should be decided with the best interests of the child in mind and not the rights of the parents in mind. Emphasis needs to be as far as possible on perserving continuity of relationships, of environments and routines.
The actions by the Social Worker was wrong. I would very much consider approaching the court if I was you to give effect to your rights in terms of the Children's Act.
Family Law Attorney
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