Many South Africans have relocated their families both nationally and internationally in the last
decade, in a bid to find a place where they feel they can prosper. Child relocation can be a
challenging undertaking that often takes a toll on all the parties that are affected. When a
marriage is dissolved both parents generally retain guardianship of a child unless there is a
court order that stipulates otherwise. So what happens when one parent wishes to relocate with
their child, impeding the other’s ability to have contact with them?
If a parent wishes to relocate their child they need to have written consent from the other parent
in order to do so. This also applies when one parent wishes to travel internationally with the
minor child, but keep in mind that this is only true when both parents have full parental rights
and responsibilities in respect of the minor child. If one parent is withholding their consent, the
parent who intends to relocate will have to seek relief from the High Court. There is no
legislation that expressly regulates child relocation and each case is decided on its own merit,
with considerations given to the previous caselaw.
The High Court is regarded as the upper guardian of minor children in South Africa. In the event
of a dispute regarding the relocation of a child, the High Court will be tasked with determining
what is in the best interest of the child. It is important to note, however, that although the best
interests principle is of major significance, it is not the only element that is considered. The
The court will also take into account things such as the nature of the relationship between the child
and their parents, the purpose for relocating, the impact that relocating will have on the minor
and whether or not the child's relocation is bona fide and justifiable.
Child relocation can be an especially contentious affair that can weigh heavily on both parents.
One party might feel that their right to freedom of movement is being limited while the other
party feels that their visitation rights are being jeopardised. Avoid unnecessary conflict by
making sure that you have sound legal advice when you are faced with decisions regarding
child relocation. Contact Cawood Attorneys to speak to a qualified attorney about your unique
situation. We will be with you every step of the way, putting your mind at ease as you navigate
our country’s legal system.