The Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005 sought to change the terminology used with regards to parent’s and children’s rights and responsibilities (and those of caregivers and guardians), in respect to the best interests of a child of two parents who are separated or divorced. The act itself covers a wide range of considerations that confer equal and joint guardianship states on parents.
Here we will take a look at the Children’s Act with regards to rights of contact, which was implemented to substitute the term ‘access’, and it governs how personal relationships between separated parents and their children are conducted. To this end, we can distinguish between six different approaches to ‘contact’ with children by divorced parents:
Taking into account the child’s age, wishes and circumstances, reasonable contact enables both parents to come to their own agreement with regards to visitation rights. This type of agreement takes it for granted that parents are on speaking terms and have the best interests of the child(ren) at heart.
Should an agreement be out of reach, a defined contact approach gives specific directions as to where, when and how a parent can make contact with a child. This allows them both to plan ahead, and also has the advantage of introducing stability in the life of the child.
With supervised contact, a parent may only have contact with their child in the presence of a mutually trusted third-party such as a guardian, family member or qualified social worker.
It is generally implemented to protect the child, and may be applicable a parent is not familiar with childcare, has a history of violence towards the child, suffers from psychological problems or substance addictions that render them unfit for care, or where, due to absence, a parent needs to re-establish their relationship with a child of a very young age.
Through indirect contact a parent may have reasonable contact with a child through telephone, email, letters and the like, which offers an ideal approach to parents who live far away from their child.
As a child ages their circumstances and needs will change ,which often results in an extension of contact with their parents. Through it, parents are gradually re-introduced to their children to avoid discomfort.
Under a shared contact agreement, both parents are given equal rights and responsibilities to be equally involved in parenting. Being an approach that often has the best results for the children, it is one that is becoming more and more popular amongst divorced or separated couples.
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Going through a divorce is a turbulent time for parents, but it can be all the more harrowing for children of such a marriage. Knowing the best approaches and having professional legal assistance on hand to help you navigate the situation is important for ensuring the well-being of the child.
If you would like assistance with family law, be sure to get into contact with a representative from Dreyer Engelbrecht Attorneys Inc. or visit our website for additional details.