Ms Hendricks recently approached our offices for advice on the issue of the termination of her ex-husband’s parental responsibilities and rights in respect of their daughter who is 6 years old. She advised our offices that she divorced her husband in 2019 due to the abuse and infidelity that her husband had subjected her to. Sadly the abuse has not stopped, and Mr Hendricks is now becoming emotionally abusive towards their daughter.
During our consultation with Ms Hendricks, we advised her of the following:
Section 28 of the Children’s Act, Act 35 of 2005 deals with the termination, extension, suspension or restriction of parental responsibilities and rights through an application to the high court, divorce court or children’s court. When considering such an application, the court must take the following factors into account:-
- the child’s best interests;
- 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 court’s opinion, be taken into account.
An application in terms of Section 28 is a drastic measure and should not be brought frivolously or maliciously by any party.
Ultimately, the Court’s are very reluctant to terminate a person’s parental rights. It is only in extreme cases where a parent’s rights may be terminated entirely, suspended, or restricted.
In Ms Hendicks’ case, whilst the emotional abuse alleged is completely unacceptable, it may not necessarily satisfy the Court that sufficient grounds exist to terminate Mr Hendricks’ parental rights. Ms Hendricks may have to consider the other avenues available to her in order to prevent any further abuse.
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Author – Jessica Gooding