Family Law: Divorce

The well-being of children in a divorce is considered to be one the most important aspects of any divorce. Though most couples believe the child’s welfare is one of the most important factors to consider in a divorce, a large percentage of parents that divorce or separate view conflict as an unavoidable part of the process and are driven to fight battles in court.

Occasionally, one encounters a stubborn parent who is incapable of neutrality when considering the best interests of the child. It could well be that you do not like your partner, however, the child’s point of view of the parent is different. They will have love and trust for that person, adept at transcending even the most dreadful scenarios that might have been witnessed.

Regrettably however, it often happens that one parent use the mechanisms of the law in a wicked way in an attempt to “legally abduct” or alienate the child by constructing false allegations against or about the other parent. Often one would find that a parent will, for instance, falsely accuse the other parent of sexually molesting the child or accusing the other parent of emotional abuse towards the child.

In a recent case, a mother who the custodian parent, was brought an application for a protection order against the father on behalf of their 8 year old daughter because, according to her, the child’s father abused the child emotionally, when the father, in actuality, only disciplined the child. The father was attempting to make telephonic contact with his daughter for days but the frustrated mother intercepted the contact by ignoring the phone and his SMS messages. When the father eventually managed to speak to his daughter, he disciplined her over the phone for not contacting him. The child began crying and the mother used that incident as the basis for a protection order against the father for alleged emotional abuse of the child. The court then approved an interim protection order in the father’s absence and the father was only able supervised visits. A social worker was appointed, as well as a psychologist, to investigate. Ultimately, the child was thrown into court appearances at the Children’s court.

A child, prevented from seeing a parent they still love, will ultimately turn to resentment against the one attempting to enforce the unenforceable. Parents often fail to understand the impact the conflict in their relationship has on the children.

The adults in the child’s life, can make the divorce and separation experience for a child much less harmful by being aware of several ways to help the child. The child must:

  • Feel and experience unconditional love from each parent.
  • Feel free of fault for the divorce and separation.
  • Feel that both parents respect the rights of the other.
  • Feel that he/she will be okay after the divorce and separation.
  • Feel that both parents will be okay after the divorce and separation.

Children sense and feel their parent’s emotions and especially the parent’s emotions toward one another. During a divorce and separation, adults experience some very strong and difficult emotions. It is difficult for a human being to comprehend how he/she could have so much love and passion for another person at one moment in time, and then later have so much scorn and even hatred for that same person. It’s all right for parents to talk to the child about why they don’t love each other anymore but the child must hear, sense, and feel that while the parents don’t love each other anymore and don’t want to live in the same house, they still respect each other’s rights as a parent to the child.

The aim for divorced or separated parents should always be to uphold the best co-parenting relationships possible by getting over their previous relationship issues and focusing on children’s welfare. Conflict within a partnership or marriage where there are children involved or after a divorce or separation is the most harmful thing parents can do for their children’s development. If children are a part of their parents’ divorce, they’ve lost some access to both their parents to a certain extent. If the parental conflict continues, the children have not only lost that access, they are still involved in that conflict and it harms children. Focusing on the children rather than the relationship problems can help divorced couples in being better parents.

Brian Blignaut Attorneys (BBA) was established in 2003 and practicing as such from Alberton, Gauteng Province in of South Africa. Brian Blignaut Attorneys’ professional team consists of Brian Blignaut (Attorney), Sunet Joubert (Attorney), Sasha Pillay (Attorney), and Anneke Steenkamp (Attorney/ Call Centre Manager). The professional staff of BBA are continuously researching current and developing legislation and community interests which enhances the firm's ability to provide our clients with business orientated efficient results, advice and assistance.

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