In South Africa, the law automatically gives full parental responsibilities and rights to a child’s biological mother. But what rights do fathers have?
Martin Pelders, founder of MatrixMen says the issue of men being denied access to their children is very common.
Unfortunately there seems to be this perception that men don't need to have access to their children because mothers are the caregivers.— Martin Pelders, founder, MatrixMen
Pelders explains that although there is some truth to the notion that mothers are the primary caregivers, fathers do play a vital and active role in a child's life and upbringing. He says there is a huge need for the state to amend these laws.
Also contributing to the discussion was Daniel Thulari, Chief Magistrate of the Western Cape Department of Justice, who says there have been some structural amendments made since 1994, relating to the family courts.
Children need both parents in their lives.— Daniel Thulari, Chief Magistrate, Western Cape Department of Justice
Thulari goes on to say that according to the law, there are no determining factors, such as age, that prescribe when a parent can have access to a child.
He outlines the four parental rights and responsibilities namely: care of the child, contact with the child, guardianship and child support.
An unmarried man, who lives with the mother of his child(ren) is legally granted parental rights and responsibilities. However, in some instances, unmarried men, will have to go through several legal processes to get acknowledged as a legal and biological parent of their child.
He suggests dads use the Children's Court in the areas in which the child resides rather than going straight to the High Court. it is best to deal with the matter at a local level as these courts are equipped to deal with the matter.
For more on paternal parental rights and responsibilities listen to the audio: