We regularly receive questions on tough topics from maintenance matters to parenting problems and everything in between, so Parent24 reaches out to local experts and legal professionals for advice and insight, when appropriate.
This mom wrote to us with a heart-breaking plea - the father of her son actively avoids spending time with him, which causes the boy much distress. She asks what can be done, and we asked two local experts for help.
See the question, and responses, below...
My question is the opposite of what most fathers question and fight for. My son keeps asking when will he get to visit his dad, he yearns for him and has even got into a fit of crying and tantrums.
His dad doesn't want to see him and has made constant excuses.
I even went to the family advocate for mediation and assistance but he threw his toys there and gave more excuses. He has moved on and is married with a new family.
He does pay maintenance for my son, but my son really just wants to spend time with his dad.
A desperate mom
Long term psychological effects
Rushka Lee Pedro, family mediator and founder of Minor Impact in Johannesburg, told us that unfortunately, there isn't anything that can be done, in terms of forcing acknowledgement of the emotional needs of the child from his or her parents.
"With some parents, they measure money with love and vise versa, and it's heart breaking," Pedro shared. "As a mother you can only see so much disappointment and pain in the face of your child before you eventually stop everything in its tracks."
The best that can be done in this situation, she advises, is for a specialist to get involved in order to make the mother aware of how she can help her child understand and deal with things better.
"In other words, try and prevent any negative long term psychological effects."
Attorney Shando Theron, a family and matrimonial law specialist and senior partner at Johannesburg-based firm Theron Inc, told us that if the couple were married and are now divorced there is an order of divorce which sets out contact between the father and the son.
"If he continually defaults then," Theron told Parent24, "the mother can take him to the Children's Court for contempt, but in such a case I would approach the court and suspend the father's rights of contact, in terms of Section 28: Termination, Suspension of Rights."
In his experience, "That usually jars the father into action."
Suspension of Rights explained
Section 28 of the Act allows the court to grant an order suspending any or all of a person’s parental responsibilities and rights for a period. They can also grant an order that circumscribes or limits parental responsibilities and rights, or even completely terminate any or all parental responsibilities and rights.
If this application is brought forward, the court will take into account the child’s best interests, the relationship between the child and the person whose parental responsibilities and rights are being challenged, the degree of commitment that the person has shown towards the child and any other facts that might affect the child's best interest.
This kind of application is a drastic measure, and to avoid abuse of the law the court will consider all sides carefully.
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