The Family Advocate is a legally qualified official appointed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to promote and protect the best interests of children in civil disputes regarding parental responsibilities and rights. The Family Advocate may, in terms of the law, appoint a Family Counsellor who is a registered social worker or psychologist to assist them with certain expertise in an enquiry.
Cross-boarder cooperation for children’s safety, Justice Today 2010, Issue 2 [166kb]
The South African government is working hard
to ensure that South African children receive
the best education. However, this is not the case
in Zimbabwe as children who are living along
the border cross into South Africa (SA) to attend
school during the day or even to see a doctor.
This is a great risk to their personal safety.
Family Advocates to share expertise
at annual meetings, Justice Today 2009 - Issue 1[280kb]
South African Family Advocates will now meet annually to share experience and expertise on their work. This decision came about
at the inaugural Family Advocate Conference, on 22 to 24 January,
themed “The Dawn of the Children’s Act”. About 190 Family Advocates
attended the conference.
SA law promotes foreign maintenance, Justice Today 2009, Vol 6
South African law allows its citizens to claim maintenance from a parent living in a foreign country. The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of 1963 is a piece of legislation which regulates foreign maintenance processes.
Family Advocate v F; In re: F v F and Others (3245/14, 3454/14)  ZAECPEHC 11 (11 February 2015)
Facts of the Case :
The applicant made an urgent application with the Eastern Cape High Court, Port Elizabeth. The applicant wanted the immediate implementation of a judgment in terms whereof it was ordered that the minor child in question be returned to the jurisdiction of the Central Authority for England and Wales and be handed over to her mother (in London) within seven days of granting the order. The child had been brought to South Africa by her father, the respondent herein, during August 2014.
The respondent’s main ground of advancement in his notice for leave to appeal is that the order he obtained in the Regional Court, Port Elizabeth (on an ex parte basis) appointing him as child’s primary caregiver, pending the outcome of the divorce proceedings he had instituted in the same court. As a result, the order (sought to be implemented herein) that operation of that order be suspended pending the outcome of the custody proceedings in England, was impermissible and it was in the public interest that it be argued in Constitutional Court.
The Court Decision:
The Court held that it is in the best interests of the minor child that immediate effect be given to the court order dated 28 November 2014.
Reasons for the decision:
The respondent’s application to the Constitutional Court will only extend the period of the child not seeing her mother which is of detriment of the child’s relationship with her mother.
No child should be deprived of a mother’s society and comfort for a six months’ period because of the prolonging litigation.
This is particularly so where there is no evidence whatsoever which suggests that the mother is an unfit parent.
The complainant, who has arrived in South Africa to fetch her daughter, has given an undertaking that if the respondent is successful in the Constitutional Court, she would see to it that the minor child is returned to South Africa.
She has also initiated mediation proceedings under the auspices of the applicant in an attempt to reach agreement on a co-parenting plan in view of the impending divorce proceedings in the Regional Court.
The Applicant has also given an undertaking that the respondent will have reasonable contact with the minor child when he visits the child in England in the interim.
The respondent has a brother and a sister in London with whom the respondent could stay when he visits the minor child in England.
The Applicant still has contact with them and such visits would therefore not present any practical problems.
V v T (325/2015)  ZAFSHC 86 (9 April 2015)
Facts of the case:
The Applicant made an application in South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. The applicant and the respondent are both South African citizens. They were married in 1999 and got divorced in 2014. Out of their marriage two minor children were born. Upon the dissolution of the marriage, both parties agreed that the respondent be granted primary residence and care of the minor children and contact rights to applicant.
In December 2014 made an application that the court grant her permission to remove the children from its jurisdiction and relocate with them to Namibia and the amendment of the previous order.
The decision of the court:
The court ordered that both parties have full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the minor children as contemplated in section 18 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 (viz. care, contact, guardianship and maintenance).
The primary residence and primary care of the minor children is awarded to the applicant as contemplated in section 18(2)(a) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005
Specific parental responsibilities and rights with regard to contact with the minor children, as contemplated in Section 18(2)(b) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 are awarded to the respondent in the following manner:
The respondent to have contact with the minor children on alternating weekends (if ever possible) upon travelling to Luderitz, Namibia, and to take them with him within the borders of Namibia from Friday 15h00 to Sunday 15h00.
The respondent to have contact with the minor children on alternating long and short school holidays in South Africa, with Christmas alternating between the parties. In particular respondent to have contact with the children in August/September long school holidays (2015), Thereafter August/September long school holidays to alternate between the parties every second year.
The respondent to have daily contact with the minor children on Skype or available telephone or other applicable social media and by all other means mentioned in section 1 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005.
the children’s passports be endorsed so as to allow travel only between Namibia and South Africa.
directed that the International Social Services (ISS) in Namibia monitors the adjustment of the chifdren in Luderitz, in compliance with this court order, ensure referral of the children to a professional psychologist, only if necessary and critical; and to provide the respondent, through his attorney (with feedback on the children’s adjustment and progress every six months in the first year (2015) and thereafter once every year.
that the applicant must, within 14 days of the date of this order, launch proceedings and pursue them with due diligence to obtain a mirror order from the appropriate Namibian court in the same terms as this court order.
A copy of this order shall forthwith be transmitted by the Family Advocate Bloemfontein, to International Social Services in Namibia.
Each party to pay its own costs in this application.
R v T (89753/14)  ZAGPPHC 21 (22 January 2015)
Facts of the case:
The applicant made an application in terms of Rule 43(6) in the High Court of South Africa South Gauteng, Pretoria on an urgent basis.
The matter concerns the child of the parties, born on 27 September 2012, presently 2 years and 4 months of age at a time the parties were residing together. The marital problems between the parties resulted in a Rule 43 application and subsequent court order dated 24 May 2013.
The decision of the court:
It was held that:
• The application be postponed sine die;
• The applicant's access to the child be provided for in the Rule 43 order dated 24 May 2013 and remains in place;
• The Family Advocate requested to investigate the situation and to furnish a report as soon as possible.
Reason for the decision:
The court is the upper guardian of the child, so it was mandatory on the court to consider what would have been in the best interests of the child. This led court to find that an order to grant the applicant primary residence of the child at this stage, without proper investigation by the Family Advocate, will not be in the best interests of the child.
I v C & Another (11137/2013)  ZAKZDHC 11 (4 April 2014)
This matter involves the interpretation of section 21 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. This section deals with parental responsibilities and rights of unmarried fathers.
ML v KG (15078/12)  ZAGPJHC 87 (8 April 2013)
The applicant brought an application against the respondent for maintenance pende lite which includes maintenance of her children not born of the respondent. In the main application, the applicant seeks a decree of divorce, a division of the joint estate, maintenance and costs. The respondent disputes the existence of the customary marriage.
Family Advocate v R (2004/2014)  ZAECPEHC 10 (15 February 2013)
This matter concerns a ten-year-old boy, J, and his three-year-old sister G, who were brought to South Africa from the United Kingdom by their mother (the respondent) on 24 December 2011, without the consent of her husband, and the three of them have remained here since.
KG v CB & others (748/11)  ZASCA 17 (22 March 2012)
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 – child wrongfully removed to South Africa from the United Kingdom – application for return of child – meaning of ‘rights of custody’ in articles 3 and 5 of Convention – defence of consent to or acquiescence in removal of child in terms of art 13(1)(a) of Convention – ‘safe harbour’ defence in terms of art 13(1)(b) of Convention – terms of return order. Media Summary
S v J (695/10)  ZASCA 139 (19 November 2010)
Parental rights and responsibilities under the Children’s
Act 38 of 2005: unmarried father’s responsibilities and rights; grandparents’
responsibilities and rights; jurisdiction of high court to set aside or suspend
operation of another high court’s order. Media Summary