'The mother refuses me access to my child. What can I do to ensure that I play a rightful role in my daughter's upbringing?' An expert assists
How can the law help a parent to see their children when one parent refuses access? Sinta Ebersohn, a local divorce mentor, answers our reader's question.
"When relationships break down, the two people involved are often in two opposing positions" (iStock)
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A reader recently approached us with a question expressing his struggle to see his child. Sinta Ebersohn, a divorce mentor at Fair Divorce, addresses his question and offers advice on the legal routes he can use to see his child.

Dear Parent 24,

Two years ago my ex and I welcomed a beautiful daughter. At the time of birth until about 18 months, we were staying together and shared responsibilities in raising the child. Unfortunately, the mother and I separated due to a strained relationship.

The mother and child found alternative accommodation.After we separated (to date 6 months), I continued to pay medical aid and provide financial support.

However, the mother refuses access to the child and does not want me to make any decisions about the child’s well-being.

We are meeting a family advocate in 2 weeks and from previous encounters with the mother, I have a strong sense that we will not come to an agreement.

What can I do to ensure that I play a rightful role in my daughter's upbringing?

Anonymous


Also read: Local dad shares what it's like being denied access to his daughter


Dear Anonymous,

Securing your relationship with your daughter is very important and I commend you for reaching out for advice and support.

Every child has the right to a healthy relationship with both parents, and the mother of your daughter may not deny you access or exclude you in any decisions involving your daughter. Alienating a child from a parent and their family is child abuse.

Separation or Divorce, especially where there are children involved, does not have to be a legal process involving the Family Advocate.

Mediation is a much faster and cost-effective route guided by an unbiased professional who is trained to resolve conflict.

Among the sensitive aspects that could play a role in your situation, and affect the outcome of your negotiations, are these factors:

  • Are you registered on your daughter’s birth certificate as the father?
  • If not, has paternity been established?
  • Were you and the mother of your daughter married or living together at the time of your baby’s birth?
  • Who has been the primary caregiver of your daughter until now?
  • Did both parents contribute financially to the care of your daughter during the time that you were together?

Parenting can be shared equally, within reasonable and practical limits, bearing in mind your daughter’s age and her ability to adapt to changes in her daily routine.

A comprehensive Parenting Plan that stipulates all the details pertaining to your daughter’s upbringing, day-to-day care, financial support, education, regular contact, health and well-being, is necessary to secure her future with both her parents, grandparents, extended families and friends on both sides.

Please also bear in mind that when relationships break down, the two people involved are often in two opposing positions, for example, one might very well have mourned the loss of the relationship and is ready to get on with life, while the other might be devastated or desperate to save the relationship.

The emotional impact of a break-up can sometimes make it very difficult to be reasonable and realistic.

It requires compassion and patience from both parties to reach an amicable agreement that is in the best interest of every member of the family.

While navigating these challenges, be mindful of the impact it might have on your child.

The best way to love your daughter and teach her how she should be treated by the men in her life is to respect and love her mother.

Wishing you and your family the very best!

Regards,

Sinta Ebersohn

Divorce Mentor: fairdivorce.co.za 

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