Child Custody Lawyer

Child Custody and Divorce – Preventing Your Ex from Taking Your Child Out of the Country

There are many reasons why a parent might need to be concerned about their child being taken out of the country, or even just moving to another province. The laws in South Africa are quite clear about this – it is not about what is best or most convenient for the parent, but what is in the best interests of the child. First and foremost, as with any legal matter, the best thing you can do is to hire a seasoned child custody lawyer to provide you with a granular assessment of your specific case, with all its nuances.

Relocation disputes between parents are a frequent occurrence in South African courts. Relocation can involve the relocation to another country, province or town. Where both parents enjoy guardianship, consent from both parents needs to be provided when one parent decides to relocate with a minor child.

Section 18 in the Children’s Act deals pointedly with the relocation of a minor child from the Republic of South Africa.

When Do Relocation Disputes Occur?

As experienced child custody lawyers, we typically see relocation disputes arise where one parent, usually the parent of primary residence, and with whom the child primarily resides, decides to leave the province or country to live elsewhere. The parent that is subsequently left behind usually refuses or disagrees to give consent that the child leaves with the other parent.

During this time, the primary caregiver can then approach the High Court for an order that dispenses the other parent’s consent. The primary caregiver can then remove the child to another province or country. Keep in mind that this outcome is not a given, and that the court won’t automatically provide its consent. The courts need to consider various factors and case law according to Section 18 of the Children’s Act before it can grant an order to the main caregiver to remove the child.

What is in the Best Interest of the Child?

When one takes into consideration previous case law, it becomes quite evident that our courts only grant permission for relocation based on the best interests of the child, regardless of the interests of the parents. Another important factor the courts take into account is whether or not the decision by the parent to relocate is bona fide and reasonable, and this will inform part of the valuation whether the move is in fact in the child’s best interest.

If the court finds the plan is in fact reasonable, then it will allow the child to move with the parent. With this in mind, it is quite evident that our courts have taken a pragmatic approach, and even though the move might be to the detriment of the other parent who will have less contact with the child, life ultimately must go on.

Another important aspect that comes into play is the fact that courts are charged with respecting the freedom of movement of family life of the relocation parent. Obviously, this is a nuanced issue, and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to each and every relocation issue. It is because of this that you need to access skilled and experienced child custody lawyers capable of helping you to navigate this subjective area of law in South Africa.

Savage Hurter Louw Uys Child Custody Lawyers Have Your Back

No one ever enters a union or partnership with the idea that it won’t work out. Unfortunately, life sometimes simply has other plans, and relationships come to an end. When there are children involved, things become complicated, and we know matters of the family involve complex and emotional situations.

Our team is skilled in many different areas of family law, from settlement agreements to parenting plans, divorce, child custody and access, to name a few. Throughout the years, we have helped many clients navigate some of the most the tumultuous times in their lives by providing sound legal advice and service. Contact us to discuss your child custody questions, concerns and needs in person.
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