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Often a big question for couples when they decide to get divorced is what happens with their children.
In this article we will look at what does “rights and responsibilities” mean and who has them.
The Children’s Act deals with all matters relating to children and what is important to note is that the child’s best interests are always at the core. Therefore who has rights and responsibilities can be found in the Act.
Section 18 of the Children’s Act identifies what rights and responsibilities entail. It is the right and responsibility to; care for the child, maintain contact with the child, act as guardian of the child and to contribute to the maintenance of the child.
Section 19 stipulates that a biological mother automatically has full rights and responsibilities whether married or unmarried.
Section 20 deals with the rights of a married father. A biological father has full rights and responsibilities of their children if; they are married to the child’s mother or was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s conception, birth and any time between the child’s conception and birth.
When a father is not married to the biological mother or has not obtained parental rights and responsibilities under section 20, section 21 can be considered.
An unmarried father can obtain parental rights and responsibilities if at the time of the child’s birth he was living with the mother in a partnership or if he is not living with the mother and he; consents to be the child’s father, contributes to the child’s upbringing and has tried to contribute financially towards the child.
It is important to note that the duty of a father to contribute to the child financially is not affected by the father not obtaining parental rights and responsibilities and therefore a biological mother can still go to court for a child maintenance order against the father.
We provide professional advice relating to all aspects of family law, including the enforcement and protection of rights in family, personal relations as well as antenuptial contracts.
Contact our divorces lawyers in Cape Town for expert legal advice and assistance with all matter relating to divorce and family law.
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