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Many parents are unsure as to what their responsibilities and rights are when it comes to their child or children. In cases of a divorce, it is often the case that one spouse may threaten the other spouse stating that they are going to get “full custody” of the child or children. The term custody is outdated and the term “care” is used instead.

In terms of Section 18 of The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 the parental responsibilities and rights that a person may have in respect of a child include the responsibility and the right :

  • to care for the child;
  • to maintain contact with the child;
  • to act as guardian of a child; and
  • to contribute to the maintenance of a child.

Both parents of a child have equal rights and responsibilities, but when they are not living together, specific rights and responsibilities may be given to one parent, either by court order or agreement between the parents.

Care for the Child or Children

Caring for a child or children means that the child or children’s daily needs and requirements are put first. The duty of care includes, but is not limited to providing a safe home that ensures that the child or children’s well-being, development and health are protected.

Maintaining Contact with the Child or Children 

The parent who has access to the child or children on a more permanent basis is termed the “primary caregiver”. The parent who does not have primary residence of a child or children has the right of contact with the child or children. In some instances parents may choose to have shared residence of the child or children where the child or children spend an equal amount of time with each parent, for example on a one week on, one week off basis. The ethos behind care and contact is that the child or children must feel that both parents are equally present in their lives.

Acting as a Guardian of a Child or Children

Both parents  have a responsibility to look after and make major decisions in respect of their child or children which includes assisting a child or children with contractual matters. Furthermore, both parents will be required to give give consent, or they may refuse to consent to the following:

  • Marriage;
  • Adoption;
  • Departure or removal from the Republic of South Africa; and
  • Application for a Passport.

Maintenance for the Child or Children

A child or children are unable to support themselves financially until they are self-supporting. Until a child or children are self-supporting both parents are responsible for financially supporting their child or children, and make contributions towards their care which includes, education, housing, food, clothing and any other expenses which relates to their lives and to their schooling.

Parents are advised that in determining their responsibilities and rights in respect of their child or children that they should enter into a Parenting Plan, which plan is an agreement between the parties, to affirm their respective parental responsibilities and rights.

To discuss any questions or queries which you may have in respect of your rights and responsibilities as a parent contact our offices. We are here to help you!

To find out more information about more about Child Law please click on this link provided : https://benitaardenbaum.com/child-law/

Author – Kate Bailey – Hill

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