Defaulting Dads – Sole Guardianship the answer?
More mothers than fathers, by far (but not exclusively) ask us to apply for sole guardianship for them. It is one of the most frequent reasons that we open new files.
In the ‘normal family’ (two present, caring, parents), the mother and father have equal rights and duties of guardianship. What is ‘guardianship? As the word suggests, it is that aspect of the parental function that focuses on protection. The guardian protects the child and his property, amongst other important legal duties. For example, the guardian must give (or withhold) certain vital permissions on behalf of a minor child – permission for the issue of a passport, permission to travel out of the country, permission to marry, consent for certain medical treatment, access to educational institutions and many more. Not all of these require the consent of both guardians, but the ‘big’ ones do need both guardians to consent. Call us if you need to know whether both are required to consent in any particular case.
Mothers often complain that fathers have left completely, or are simply not doing their duty as guardians. A man may even be using his fatherly position as one of power – to withhold vital support and consents, to make life difficult for the woman who left him. Women do this too, but not as frequently as men do.
The result of malice or negligence by an ‘absent’ (not always physical absence) of the father, is the inability of the mother to get various important things done for her child. Like enrolling at a new school, traveling overseas or emigrating.
The answer to the mother’s dilemma, is a court order overriding the father’s obstruction ina particular case, or her appointment as sole guardian. The other side of this, is that the father is deprived of certain rights and duties by such an order. This is a major interference with the father’s legal status as a parent and the dynamics within the family. As such, an order for sole guardianship is not easily granted. Furthermore, only the High Court has the power to make orders in regard to guardianship – the High Court is the ‘upper guardian’ of all minor children and other people with legal disabilities. Only a Family Law specialist can confidently advise you in regard to guardianship and make the necessary application to the High Court.
This article just scratches the surface of an important issue. If you have questions about any of this, feel free to call us or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; we have extensive experience with guardianship and all Family Law matters.
22 March 2018
Family Law Specialist lawyers and mediators; Divorce; Parents & Children; Grandparents; Cohabitation; Curators; Maintenance; International Divorce; Domestic Violence and more.