A parent may either have full or specific parental responsibilities and rights in respect of a child. The responsibilities and rights include the responsibility and right to care for the child, maintain contact with the child, act as guardian and contribute towards the maintenance of the child. Whether a parent maintains full or specific parental responsibilities and rights may change over time, taking the best interests of the child into account.

This article seeks to explore termination of parental responsibilities and rights to the exclusion of any other changes that may be requested and effected.

It may become evident that a parent is either failing to adequately cater for the needs of a child or entirely neglecting to do so, to such an extent that the obligations of one parent are substantially exacerbated. This may result in one parent being unjustifiably prejudiced by the actions of the neglecting parent, with the resultant effect that the child’s best interests are not catered for.

Section 28 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, provides for the termination, extension, suspension or restriction of parental responsibilities and rights. This provision caters for an application to be brought in the High Court where the responsible parent would request the Court to grant an order either terminating or suspending the parental responsibilities and rights of the neglecting parent. The effect of an application will either wholly or partially deprive a person of their parental responsibilities and rights regarding a child meaning that person will no longer have any obligations to care for or maintain the child nor have any right to exercise contact with the child.

An application for the termination of parental responsibilities and rights may be launched by:

  • A co-holder of the child.
  • Any other person with sufficient interest in the protection, wellbeing and development of the child.
  • The child, acting with leave of the court.
  • A person acting in the child’s interest, with leave of the court.
  • A Family Advocate or the representative of any interested state organ.

Before granting an application, the court will take the following into consideration:

  • The best interests of the child.
  • The relationship between the child and the person whose rights are being challenged
  • The degree of commitment that the person has shown towards the child.
  • Any other fact that should in the opinion of the court be taken into account.

It is important to note that an application not be granted where it is not proven to be in the best interests of the child, as it results in a deprivation of rights of a parent or co-holder.

Should you have any questions regarding the termination of parental responsibilities and rights, please do not hesitate to contact our offices and schedule an appointment to discuss the issue.

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