Grandparents have rights too

2018-08-15 06:00
Chris-Meri Lillie

Chris-Meri Lillie

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


I practically raised my grandchildren for the first few years of their lives and am very close to them. Unfortunately, my son recently passed away and now their mother refuses that I see them. Is there anything I can do?


As a point of departure, it is important to note that our South African law as a rule does not make specific provision for a grandparent’s rights over their grandchildren.

That said, our Children’s Act 38 of 2005 does provide for a way to establish such rights.

In terms of the Children’s Act any third party who has an interest in the care, well-being, or development of a child may apply to either the High Court or the Children’s Court for an order for care or contact over minor child­ren.

Thus, a grandpa­rent who wishes to establish rights over grandchildren would need to make use of section 23 of the Children’s Act.

When considering bringing such an application to court it is important to note the difference between an order for care and one for contact.

“Care” as defined in Section 1 of the Children’s Act includes providing the child with a suitable place to live, proper living conditions, financial support and protec­ting the child from abuse and harm.

It also deals with guarding against any infringement of the child’s rights, directing the child’s education and ensuring the best interest of the child are the paramount concern in all matters affecting the child.

“Contact” on the other hand, in relation to a child, means to maintain a personal relationship with the child. If the child lives with someone else contact would entail communication with the child on a regular basis either in person or by telephone.

In an application for either care or contact, the court will consider the best interest of the child, the relationship between the applicant and the child and the degree of commitment that the applicant has shown towards the child.

In determining the best interest of the child the court will have regard to the need for the child to remain in the care of his or her parents or family and the child’s need to maintain a connection with his or her family, extended family, culture or tradition.

It is therefore important to note that an order granting a grandparent care or contact does not take away the parental rights and responsibilities another person has in respect of the child. For example, a mother does not lose her parental rights and responsibilities when the court assigns contact or care to the child’s grandparents. They will then merely be co-holders of parental rights and responsibilities in respect of the child.

In a recent court case it was stated that “grandpa­rents often play an important part in a child’s social and psychological development and usually take a keen interest in the upbringing of their grandchildren. The relationship with their grandchildren often assists and compliments parental care.

“There can therefore be little doubt that it is usually in a child’s best interest to maintain a close relationship with his or her grandparent.”

Should you feel strongly about being more involved with your grandchildren, we recommend that you consult with a family specialist to discuss your situation and how you could gain more access to your grandchildren.

– Chris-Meri Lillie, asso­ciate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Key Accounts - IT

Southern Shore Recruitment
R15 000.00 - R25 000.00 Per Month

Sales Representative- Knysna

George - Knysna
George Employment Consultants
R15 000.00 Per Month Per Month

Audit Senior / Bookkeeper to Trial Balance

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Placement Point (Pty) Ltd
R15 000.00 - R21 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.