A father is denied access to his child

Denying a father access to a child is a serious problem in South Africa. A study done by concerned fathers from the North West Province responding to father absence and fatherlessness in South Africa cites that an estimated 2.13 million children are fatherless.

Countless studies have been conducted that focus on absent fathers. There should be studies that look into mothers denying father’s access to the child and how a child is used as a weapon by the mother.
Section 28(2) of the constitution states: “A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.” This principle ensures that a child’s well-being is the top priority in any legal matter that affects them. Weaponizing a child against the father isn’t in the best interest of the child.

A father who wants to remain anonymous emailed the Guardian Report seeking legal advice from Mukwani attorneys about his challenge with the mother of his child denying him access to the child.

Anonymous: I’m in my late 30s and from Soweto. I have a two-month-old baby, and her mother is making my life a living hell. My relationship with my baby Mama was in a rocky place before our daughter was born. Just before our daughter was born, we ended up separating; it was long overdue. I used to spend time with my daughter. I’d pop by during the week.
When my daughter was approaching two months, things changed. My baby mama told me that I shouldn’t come see my daughter; I shouldn’t even video call my daughter just to see her. My baby mama went to the extent of saying that I could go to court and that she would make my life difficult to be with my daughter. I want to have access to my daughter. What options are there for a father who wants to have a relationship with his daughter?

Mukwani Attorneys: The law says the father has the right to have access to the child, and we look into what is in the best interest of the child. The mother isn’t allowed to deny the father access to the child; even the father who isn’t paying maintenance should have access to the child.
A father who wants to have access to the child should go to the children’s court in the geographical location of the child, fill out some forms, and state that he wants to have access to the child. The only reason that a father can be denied access is if it’s in the best interest of the child.

Step-by-Step Guide to Resolving a Dispute

  1. Go to the children’s court and make your application.
  2. Upon application by either of the parties or by direction of the court, the family advocate will interview the parties in the presence of each other or separately, where necessary, to ascertain their personal circumstances and background details in the matter.
  3. The Office of the Family Advocate also interviews the child with the assistance of the family counsellor in order to obtain and convey the child’s views on the matter to court. The aim is to protect the child from testifying in a potentially harsh court environment.
  4. The family advocate helps the parties reach an agreeable or viable solution through mediation by applying their legal expertise and dispute resolution skills to the matter.
  5. If the parties reach an agreement, the family advocate will then help them draft a parenting plan or responsibilities and rights agreement, which can be registered with the office of the family advocate or made an order of court.
  6. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the family advocate will then compile a report for court and make a recommendation based on the inquiry that was conducted.

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