Guardianship of children

2019-05-15 06:00

GUARDIANSHIP of children is a vital aspect of both children’s and parents’ lives. Globalisation is ever increasing in today’s world and more parents are now working further away from their homes, and even abroad in order to provide for their families.

This coupled with the fact that it is more common to see both parents working, has led to children being placed in boarding establishments and/or under the care of trusted family members or friends.

In such situations it is important for parents to have their proverbial ducks in a row with respect to their children’s lives, safety and well-being.

Although their children may be left in good hands, there are various day-to-day and emergency situations whereby the authorised guardian of the children ought to have certain legal rights when assisting the children, and should be assigned as the children’s legal guardian.

For example, if the parents are away and the child requires a passport, or if the child is rushed to hospital for an emergency, the guardian of the child would attend to this but may not have the legal authority to act in the child’s interests. However, if the guardian is a legal guardian of the child then they would be able to legally assist the child by giving medical consent, consent for the child to travel abroad, assist in administrative, contractual and other legal matters.

A legal guardian of a child should be a fit and proper person, responsible and a trusted friend or family member. If required, a legal guardian may be appointed by way of an application to the High Court of South Africa. Anyone who has an interest in the care, well-being and development of a child may apply to be the child’s guardian — here the court will consider the best interests of the child, the relationship between the applicant and the child and any other relevant person and the child, and any other factor that should, in the opinion of the court, be taken into account. The appointment of such a legal guardian has no effect on parental rights and responsibilities and would not make the legal guardian financially responsible for the children.

Should you wish to consult an attorney regarding the assigning of a legal guardian, or have any questions relating thereto, please feel free to contact our Family Law Attorney, Ms Whyona Sithapersad on 033 845 9700. — Supplied.

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