Nqobizitha Mlilo standing in for Micheal Motsoeneng-Bill on the Law Report, discussed the legal process of terminating parental rights of one or both biological parents if they are absent in their children’s lives , with attorney Chris Ficher and legal advisor Cherryl Webb.
Nqobizitha Mlilo shared how statistics indicate that 60% of kids in South Africa grow up with a single parent, and in most instances, it is the father that is absent.
This results in the mother struggling with legal documentation for their children, which often leads them to experience difficulty when they need to apply for passports and want to travel as well as when they need to move their children from one school to another.
All these become a problem when one parent isn’t cooperating with the other.
Listen to the full conversation here:
Terminating parental rights
The discussion touched on how the law makes it possible to confer parental rights to another person who is not necessarily the biological parent. This can also be done by either parent if the other parent is absent. This is applicable in terms of Section 28 of the Bill of Right which is also known as the Children’s’ Act.
“In terms of the Children’s Act, the biological parents gains automatic parental rights towards the minor child, but if the environment and circumstances are what the court would deem unfit, they could change your parent rights status and responsibilities.”
The panel also indicated that If the father doesn’t make any contributions or meaningful contact with the child, the mother would have to bring an application to the court to terminate parental rights. They also offered a clear distinction of parental rights and responsibilities. The court is able to terminate the father’s parental right and keep intact the father’s parental responsibility.
- Parental right:These are when you have the right to contact the child, to act as a guardian of the minor child, and to make decisions on behalf of the minor child.
- Parental Responsibilities: These are your responsibilities to contribute towards the maintenance of the minor child.
How to have a successful application of terminating parental rights
The panel also shared what would typically be looked at in such an application in court.
“The court takes into consideration the best interest of the child, they look at the relationship of the child with a parent whose parental rights and responsibilities are being challenged into account. The degree of commitment that the person has shown towards the child is also very important. The court will also look at any other factor that may arise as well.“