The Children’s Act makes a distinction between married and unmarried fathers when it comes to parental responsibilities and rights.

In terms of the Act parental responsibilities and rights includes the following:

  • The responsibility and right to care for the child
  • To maintain contact with the child
  • To act as guardian for the child
  • To contribute maintenance of the child

Married fathers automatically obtain all the above rights and responsibilities, while unmarried fathers need to satisfy certain criteria in order to obtain them.

The first way an unmarried father obtains parental rights and responsibilities is if he was living with the mother in a life partnership when the child was born.

Secondly, the unmarried father can request a paternity test.

Lastly, parental rights and responsibilities can be obtained if the unmarried father has made good faith attempts to be part of the child’s upbringing and to pay maintenance of the child.

After determining whether an unmarried father is eligible to obtain parental rights and responsibilities, the next step would be to enforce same through the children’s court.

In conclusion unmarried fathers can be placed on equal footing with married fathers when it comes to parental rights and responsibilities should a dispute arise in this regard.

Should this article be applicable to you and should you require our assistance please contact Tuckers attorneys on 011 897 1900, 076 777 1920 or info@tuckers.co.za.

Article contributed by Tiaan Vermuelen of Tuckers attorneys.


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