Our expert says:
Family law expert
There are guidelines with regard to a child’s age, in the case of an infant visitation can be only during the day, with nights spent back with the mother. In South Africa it is recommended that sleep over kicks in at age of 3- 4. But this is subject to the ability of the father and the mother’s confidence in handling the child. The law will support a mother if she feels the child is too small to sleep over for an entire weekend.
If a couple are unable to reach an agreement on the reasonable access terms it must be referred to the Family Advocate. A meeting is then held with both parties and a child psychologist will access the child (provided she is old enough). Both parties are then asked what they would like and why.
Based on the assessment of the child and the meeting with the parents, the Family Advocate makes a decision as to what they deem to be the best interests of the child.
This decision then becomes a court order.
A judge can force a mother who is using her children to manipulate her ex-husband to put her own needs aside and do what is best for the child. Which would be allowing the children to see him the father.
If a decision is reached without the need of the Family Advocate to intervene, they still need to endorse the divorce settlement before the divorce is granted. Again this enables them to ensure the decision is fair and reasonable.
Again, it depends on the ability of the father to care for the child whilst in his care and also what will be in the best interest of the child.
The courts hardly ever award sole custody these days.
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