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Children`s Act Matters

CHILDREN'S RIGHTS: 

  • Children have the right to an education suitable to their aptitudes and abilities.
  • Children have the right to a say in their my care, and any changes to how they are cared for, according to their age & maturity.
  • Children have the right to get special care for special needs.
  • Children have the right to be protected from harm.
  • Children have the right to good health care if they are sick and to be kept away from cigarettes, alcohol & drugs.
  • Children are a real persons and have a right to be treated properly.
  • Children  have the right to privacy.
  • Children have the right to speak and visit in private with their family or any other person like their friend, a person representing them like their social worker or lawyer.
  • Children have a right to a lawyer in courtrooms and hearings affecting their future.
  • Children have a right to live in a nice place and not be detained in prison or in a police cell.
  • Children have the right to a loving and caring family, a proper safe and comfortable home, clothing and healthy food.

 

Definitions

 

  • Age of majority When a child moves on into adulthood, that is turns 18, he or she becomes a major.
  • Annul (annulled) To legally cancel or end a specific arrangement, for example a marriage.
  • Adoption Adoption is a legal way for an adult or adults, who for example are unable to give birth to a child or want to bring another child into the family, to become the legal parents of a child.
  • When you adopt a child, the child becomes yours as if born of you.
  • Adoption (inter-country) A situation where the parents, who want to adopt, live in a different country to the child.
  • Adoptive child This means a child that can be adopted by parents who are not his or her biological parents, because the child has either been abandoned, orphaned, abused, neglected, or because his or her parents cannot be found or are unable to care for the child.
  • Adoptive parents Parents who are legally appointed to permanently look after and care for a child or children that are not their biological children.
  • Biological father or mother The father and mother who brought the child into the world; this means they biologically created the child.
  • Guardian A person or persons who have been legally appointed to protect and take care of a child or
  • Children.
  • High Court A court in which a judge sits to hear and decide maintenance Money paid to a parent or children for their support, usually by a divorced or separated spouse, or the father of a child whose parents are not married.
  • Marriage (civil) A registered marriage that took place in front of a magistrate or a minister of certain religions. Marriage (common law) Living together without being legally married.

 

What is a Children’s Court? 

  •  A Children’s Court is a special court which deals with issues affecting children.
  •  The children’s court also takes care of children who are in need of care and protection and makes decisions about children who are abandoned,orphaned and neglected or abused.
  •  Any person/ child may approach the clerk of the children’s court when he/ she believes that a child may be in need of care and protection.
  •  The Children’s Court can place a child in safe care or refer the child and/or the parent to services that they may require.
  • Children’s Court does not deal with criminal cases.
  • Did you know that the following people MUST report a possible case of child abuse?  
  1. Dentists
  2.  Teachers
  3. Social workers
  4. Attorneys
  5. Ministers of religion
  6. Nurses
  7.  Traditional leaders

 

  • Did you know that a child may be adopted jointly by a husband and wife; partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership; or other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit?

What is adoption?
 

Adoption is a process where an adult receives the parental rights and responsibilities from the biological parent/s of a child who is under 18 years of age.

Adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in the status of a child and is required in terms of a Court Order.

Who may be adopted?

A child in terms of Section 230, any child may be adopted if:

(a) The adoption is in the best interests of the child;
(b) The child is adoptable;
(c) The provisions of the Act is complied with.


A adoption social worker must also make an assessment if a child is orphaned to determine if the child may be adopted,(where there is no legal guardian or caregiver who is willing to adopt the child); 

  • A Child or children whose parent/s or legal guardian/s cannot be established;
  • A Child who was abandoned;
  • A Child who was abused by his/her parent/s or legal guardian/s; or
  • A Child who needs a permanent home.

 

The following adults can adopt:

Section 231 regulates who may adopt a child. A child may be adopted jointly by:

  1. a husband and wife or partners in a permanent domestic life-partnership;
  2. other persons sharing a common household and forming a permanent family unit;
  3. by a widow, divorcee or unmarried person or a widower;
  4. a married person whose spouse is the parent of the child or by a person whose permanent domestic life-partner is the parent of the child;
  5. by the foster parent of the child.
  6. Biological father of a child born out of wedlock.

 

When will a person be allowed to adopt?

A prospective parent must be over 18 years of age; can be entrusted with full parental rights and responsibilities; wants to take, exercise and maintain these rights and responsibilities; and who must be assessed by a social worker.

 

Who must give consent to adoption?

Consent must be given in the presence of a presiding officer after the biological parent(s) guardian(s) received counselling from an adoption social worker.Same applies to a child 10 years or older.

  1. Each parent of the child, or legal guardian where necessary;
  2. No consent required if parent of the child has a mental illness;
  3. No consent required if parent of the child abuses or neglected the child or allowed this to happen;
  4. When the child is 10 years of age or older; and
  5. When the child under the age of 10 years if he/she has the maturity and understanding to consent.
  6. No consent required if parent/s who abandoned the child/children;
  7. Consent must be reduced to writing, signed and verified by the Children’s Court.

 

Can consent be withdrawn?

Yes for up to 60 days after the consent has been given - a Children’s Court must not make an order for adoption final before the period of 60 days has expired.


 What is the adoption procedure?

When a child becomes available for adoption, a notice must be served by the sheriff on each consenting party to request consent to the adoption.

An interview is arranged between a prospective adoptive parent and a social worker. Following the interview, the social worker compiles a report containing information on whether the child can be adopted; if adoption is in the best interest of the child; medical information in relation to the child and the eligibility of the prospective adoptive parent/s.

An application for the adoption of a child must:

be made to a Children’s Court and be accompanied by the report of the social worker and be accompanied by a letter from the Provincial Head of Social development recommending the adoption of the child; and

A consent form (the parent/s of a child may elect a specific person to adopt his/her child in the consent form where the Children’s Court will determine the prospective parent/s eligibility).

The Children’s Court must consider the following factors before deciding on whether to allow the adoption, the community, religious and cultural background of the child, the child’s parent/s, and the prospective adoptive parent/s;

The information contained in the application (a person may not be disqualified from adopting a child due to his or her financial status).

The Children’s Court will allow or disallow the application for adoption a prospective adoptive parent may have to pay fees for the child to be adopted which differs from organisation to organization.

 

What are the consequences when an adoption order is made?

When an adoption order is granted, it has the following consequences:

The termination of the rights and responsibilities of the original parent/s or legal guardian/s;

The child can take on the surname of the adoptive parent/s (unless the Children’s Court states otherwise), the adoptive parents must, together with the child’s birth certificate, inform Home Affairs to record the adoption and the change in surname.


 What is guardianship?

This means the administrative part of taking care of a child. Married parents have both natural and legal guardianship.


 What is a legal guardian?

A legal guardian is someone who is chosen to be a guardian either in a will or by a court.

What is a natural guardian?

Sometimes the biological parents are called the natural guardians.

Sole guardians

When a child only has one guardian, that person is referred to as the sole guardian. Their tasks are to: 

  1. administer and safeguard the child’s property and property interests;
  2. assist or represent the child in administrative, contractual and other legal matters; and
  3. if it is required by law in any aspect pertaining to the child;
  4. for the child to marry, if the child is not yet 18 years old;
  5. for the alienation or encumbrance of any of the child’s immovable property.
  6. In his/her will, a sole guardian may appoint a fit and proper person to take over guardianship of the child in the event of his/her death.

 Co-Guardians

When a child has more than one guardian, those people are referred to as co-guardians. In cases such as these, all guardians must give their consent:

 administer and safeguard the child’s property and property interests;

  1. Assist or represent the child in administrative, contractual and other legal matters; and
  2. if it is required by law in any aspect pertaining to the child;
  3. for the child to marry, if the child is not yet 18 years old;
  4. for the alienation or encumbrance of any of the child’s immovable property.

In his/her will, a sole guardian may appoint a fit and proper person to take over guardianship of the child in the event of his/her death.


What does contact mean?

This is about keeping in touch even though maybe the parent is not living in the same home. It is about talking and/or seeing the child often enough to develop a relationship.

What does care mean?

Care means thinking about the child’s daily needs such as providing a safe home, food, education and love. The child’s development is part of care.


 

A biological father if he was not married to the biological mother must prove that he:


 

  1. Was living with the child’s mother in a serious, long term relationship at the time of the child’s birth,
  2. Wants to claim paternity of the child,
  3. Chooses to pay customary law damages,
  4. Contributes to the child’s upbringing, or
  5. Contributes or tries to contribute to the maintenance of the child

 

When an unmarried father of a child wants to claim paternity it means he wants everyone to know that he is the child’s father even if he and the child’s mother do not have a relationship.

The High Court is the only court that can give someone permission to become a guardian. The divorce court and the children’s court can give a person permission to take care of a child or just for visiting a child.


What is a parenting plan in terms of Section 34 of Childrens Act?

The Children’s Act offers parenting plans as a method to assist parents in exercising their parental responsibilities and rights after separation or divorce.

A parenting plan sets out how parents will exercise their respective responsibilities and rights.

It must comply with the best interests of the child principle as set out in the Act, and must be in terms of a prescribed form and include the following issues:

1.    where and with whom the child is to live;

2.    the maintenance of the child;

3.    contact between the child and any other parent;and

4.    the schooling and religious upbringing of the child.

5. Any other person (who has acquired full rights and responsibilities enters into a Parental rights and responsibility Agreement in terms of Section 22 of the Act. 


A parenting plan is essential document or contract directing how children will be raised after separation or divorce. As a co-parenting solution, it is a written agreement drafted by both parents with the help of a neutral third party, usually a social worker, psychologist or family lawyer, acting as a mediator.

Once the plan is finalized, it is signed by both parents. Parenting plans need to be continually reviewed, as children’s developmental needs change over time.

 

 FORM DOWNLOAD FOR APPLICANTS AND RESPONDENTS

The Children`s Act
Children act 38.2005.pdf (869.96KB)
The Children`s Act
Children act 38.2005.pdf (869.96KB)


 

Natural Fathers 1997 Act
Natural Fathers 1997 Act.pdf (296.14KB)
Natural Fathers 1997 Act
Natural Fathers 1997 Act.pdf (296.14KB)


 

Form 02: (J767) - Bringing a matter to children's court in terms of section 53 of the Children's Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005)
Form2 J767.pdf (150.93KB)
Form 02: (J767) - Bringing a matter to children's court in terms of section 53 of the Children's Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005)
Form2 J767.pdf (150.93KB)


If something unpleasant has happened to you and you need some help or you want to find someone to talk to your parent or parents first.

Also try talking to your teacher or a close adult family member. If none of these people can help try to contact the telephone numbers given on the link below:

Useful numbers

Empowering Parents.com is an excellent website about Child Behaviour Problems and any person can register for a weekly news letter. 

www.empoweringparents.com

This a also an good website about Children and their health.

www.healthychildren.org  
 

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