Foster Parent / Legal Guardian


Scenario: You are the paternal uncle to a little boy (“Ben”) who was born of the marriage between your brother and his girlfriend. After ben’s birth, his mother, who abused drugs and alcohol, abandoned Ben, leaving your brother to raise him alone. Your brother, although he was a good father, also battled a drug addiction which resulted in you caring and providing for Ben majority of the time. Tragically, your brother passes away in a car accident and Ben is left without any parents and you want to be his foster parent and ultimately his legal guardian. What steps do you take?


Part A: becoming a foster parent/temporary safe care parent

The process of foster care begins with the child/ren being declared a child/ren in need of care and protection by the court situated in the area where the child/ren lives at the time. Should you fit our scenario above or a similar situation, you are welcome to contact our offices to approach the court; and on good evidence shown, the court may order that the child/ren in question is in need of care and protection, and the child/ren may be removed from their current surroundings and placed in your temporary safe care (foster care). This process is facilitated by an attorney, a designated social worker and some instances a police official who acts on instructions from the court.


The initial order by a court, placing a child/ren in temporary safe care is generally valid for a period of 90 days. During this time a social worker will conduct their necessary investigations, where after all parties will again appear before the court and, on the basis of the social worker’s report the court will make a decision regarding the placement of the child, for example, the court may decide to extend the order for temporary safe care and the child will remain with their temporary safe care parents (foster parent’s).


Part B: becoming a legal guardian

For those foster parents wanting to acquire complete decision-making rights over their foster children, they may apply to the High Court of South Africa for Acquisition of Parental Responsibilities and Rights, which essentially has the same effect as an adoption order in South Africa. This is a process we at Tuckers are specialized in. This will allow a person to have full “decision-making” power over a child/ren and will entitle a person to make all important decisions regarding the child/ren such as decisions relating to a child’s removal/relocation from the Republic, placing the child/ren on medical aid, among others.


After our exposure to recent cases, it has become apparent that there is a dire need for qualified and registered foster parents, and, more importantly, a need for attention when it comes to children who are classified as children in need of care and protection. Should you have any queries or need any detailed advice concerning foster care or acquisition of parental responsibilities and rights or issues related thereto, feel free to contact the offices of Tuckers Inc. on 011 897 1900, 076 777 1920 or


Article contributed by Lauren-Tayla Thomaz of Tuckers attorneys.