Our expert says:
Family law expert
I recently had a case where the father of a child was an alcoholic. The father divorced the mother of his 10 year old son 7 years ago and was absent for years in the life of the child. The father approached the High Court to obtain access to the child. It was proved that the father was still abusing alcohol. The mother, my client opposed the application and filed a counter application to suspend the father's right to access, pending him undergoing rehabilitation. We succeeded with the application.
Circumstances may arise such as the abandonment or disappearance of a parent which causes problems in and with the exercise of the parental responsibilities and rights and it becomes necessary for proper parenting to terminate or suspend the other parent's responsibilities and rights.
A co-holder of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child and any other person having a sufficient interest in the care, protection, well-being or development of the child may apply to:
the High Court,
a divorce court in a divorce matter
or a children's court
within whose area of jurisdiction the child concerned is ordinarily resident.
For an order suspending for a period, or terminating, any or all of the parental responsibilities and rights which a specific person has in respect of a child or extending or circumscribing the exercise by that person of any or all of the parental responsibilities and rights that person has in respect of a child.
This application may be combined with an application for the assignment of contact and care in respect of the child and may be brought by:
a co-holder of parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child,
by any other person having a sufficient interest in the care, protection, well-being or development of the child,
by the child, acting with leave of the court, in the child's interest
by any other person, acting with leave of the court or
by a family advocate or the representative of any interested organ of state.
When considering such application the court must take into account:
the best interests of the child,
the relationship between the child and the person whose parental responsibilities and rights are being challenged,
the degree of commitment that the person has shown towards the child and
any other fact that should, in the opinion of the court, be taken into account.
The court hearing an application may grant the application unconditionally or on such conditions as it may determine, or may refuse the application, but an application may be granted only if it is in the best interests of the child.
B.Proc; AD Dip L Law
Family Law Attorney
Abrahams and Gross Inc.
A:1st Floor, 56 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town, 8000
O: +27 (0) 21 422 1323
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