VermeulenLaw Mobile Logo

Website Location : Home » Blog » Analyzing Parental Rights in International Child Relocation: A Look at T.R v S.M (035901/2023)

Call us: Mon – Fri 8:00am – 4:30pm

Analyzing Parental Rights in International Child Relocation: A Look at T.R v S.M (035901/2023)


The Gauteng Local Division of the High Court in Johannesburg recently deliberated on a significant matter in T.R v S.M (035901/2023) [2024]. This case is useful in understanding how South African courts handle the sensitive subject of a custodial parent’s international relocation with a child against the other parent’s wishes. It sheds light on the judicial balance between a custodial parent’s right to seek opportunities abroad and the non-custodial parent’s right to maintain a relationship with their child.

Case Summary

In this case, the applicant, T.R, intended to move to Nairobi, Kenya, with her 12-year-old daughter, shared with S.M, the respondent. This move was motivated by T.R’s new role in an international firm. S.M opposed the move, raising concerns about the child’s well-being and the potential strain on their father-daughter relationship.

Judicial Analysis and Verdict

Mahomed AJ, overseeing the case, carefully considered both sides’ arguments. The decision emphasized the child’s welfare as a priority, aligning with Section 28(2) of the Constitution Act and Section 18 of the Children’s Act. The court observed S.M’s limited involvement in his daughter’s life and inconsistent financial contributions.

Importantly, the court referred to Jackson v Jackson, noting that custodial parents’ genuine and reasonable decisions to emigrate are usually respected. The approval for T.R to relocate was based on the child’s best interests and T.R’s role as the primary caregiver. The Court expressed its displeasure with the Respondent for trying to thwart the Applicant’s move under circumstances where his contributions to the child (both in respect of time and financial aid) were limited.

Key Judgment Excerpt

A notable statement from the judgment: “I noted that only after the application was launched and the litigation progressed, he paid over R16 000 toward her annual school fees of R150 000 per annum, less than half the annual cost.  If he is unable to meet her financial needs, which is a reality in every child’s life, and her mother has managed, naturally it is in her best interest to be with her mother and their family in Kenya, so that her needs can be met.  It is noteworthy that he was able to afford a luxury holiday but not reasonable maintenance, the minor child is not his priority or perhaps it suits him that the applicant carries the full burden” (Para. 45).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Factors in International Relocation Cases:
    • The child’s best interest, the relocation’s effect on both parents, and the child’s relationship with each parent are key considerations.
  2. Non-Custodial Parent’s Opposition:
    • While the non-custodial parent can challenge the relocation, the court’s decision, focusing on the child’s best interests and the reasons for the custodial parent’s move, is usually final (subject to the right to appeal the judgment).
  3. Rights of the Non-Relocating Parent:
    • This parent maintains rights to contact and maintenance, subject to the court’s directives on practical arrangements.


The T.R v S.M case demonstrates the South African courts’ nuanced approach in reconciling the rights and interests of both parents, with the child’s welfare as the foremost consideration. It reaffirms that in matters of international relocation, the child’s best interest remains the guiding principle in the court’s decision-making process.

- Contact Us -

Recent Articles

- Contact Us -