Passport Application for my child. I cannot find the father to give consent at the Department of Home Affairs

Passport Application fro a Minor Child where father cannot be found or does not give consent.

Passport Application for a minor child: Mother cannot find the father to provide the necessary consent at the Department of Home Affairs. The Application is therefore refused.

Passport Application for a minor child: It is not easy being a single parent, and at the same time, the primary caregiver of the child. This is even so where the other parent pays child support and regularly sees the child. This article deals with the situation where the father of the child is missing. He, therefore, does not pay any child support, nor has a relationship with the child. This causes a problem when it comes to issues of guardianship rights. For example, when the mother wants to enrol the child in a school or provide medical consent. The question would always arise – “where is the father?”, or “did the father give his consent?” When it comes to official matters, for example, the application for a passport, then things become more complicated. This is where the issue of parental consent for the application for a passport is looked at. Now let us first deal with the law.

Set up a Consultation with us.Parental Responsibilities and Rights of Fathers

In short, if a father was married to the mother, he would automatically have full parental responsibilities and rights to the child born from them. This includes the rights of care, contact and guardianship. If he was not married to the mother of the child, he can acquire parental responsibilities and rights. In short, in order for the unmarried father to acquire parental responsibilities and rights, he has to form part of the child’s life. He may also attempt to do so and the mother hinders it from happening. In the latter situation, he would still acquire parental responsibilities and rights.

The Unmarried Father’s Rights

The unmarried father can acquire parental responsibilities and rights to his child in a number of ways. They include paying child support, visiting the child and so on. Therefore, not all fathers would have parental responsibilities and rights over their children. Some fathers just impregnated the mothers and went missing. Such a father cannot rock up, 12 years later and demand to take the child with him to the movies. I think you understand the point  we are trying to make.

What is the legal effect of having parental responsibilities and rights over a child?

Should a father have parental responsibilities and rights over a child – he has certain defined rights. Those rights could either be absolute, or specific. An absolute right would be one of guardianship. An example would be an application for a passport or the removal of a child from the Republic. In the latter cases, the father’s consent is an absolute requirement which can only be taken away by a court of law.

Then there are relative parental responsibilities and rights over a child. These rights depend on the circumstances of the case. An example would be that of visitation. A father who has parental responsibilities and rights of contact over a child cannot demand to see the child at any time. He may not even be able to demand to see the child half the time. His contact rights would be limited to what is in the child’s bests interests. And that would change from time to time. For example, should the father live 100km away from his children, contact could be every second weekend. But, should he live down the road, it could be every second day.

The Legal Problem for unmarried parents and their rights

The consent required in relation to the exercise of parental responsibilities and rights over certain children have challenges. How would anyone know whether or not an unmarried father has parental responsibilities and rights? For example, lets say the father was never involved in the child’s life – what proof does she have to show the authorities that the father does not have any parental responsibilities and rights? Would the Department of Home Affairs just accept the allegation made by the mother? I do not think so. And this could cause a problem in two ways.

Let’s say the father has parental responsibilities and rights over a child. The mother however now wishes to relocate overseas. She tells the authorities at the Department of Home Affairs that she does not know where the father is, and he was never involved in the child’s life. If the Department of Home Affairs accepts her lie, the mother would be able to leave South Africa with the child, and without the father knowing. Let alone obtain his consent.

On the other hand, let’s say that the father was really not involved in the child’s life since birth. He went missing after he found out the mother was pregnant. He never paid for any of the birthing costs, nor any of the child’s expenses since birth. Should the mother approach the Department of Home Affairs, would they allow her to obtain a passport without the father’s consent? We could be wrong, but we doubt they will.

What can a mother do if she does not have the consent from the father

As the law stands and with the current position of the Department of Home Affairs, the following needs to be done if the father refuses to give his consent, or cannot be found.

Application to the High Court

We advise that you consult with a legal advisor to advise you on the merits of your case. If there are merits, an application to the relevant court would be made. The Court would decide on the matter after hearing from both the parents. If it is decided that it would be best for the child to obtain a passport or relocate, the court would grant the appropriate order.

These are the documents that would form part of the Court file:

Notice of Motion

This document outlines the relief you are asking the court for. This would be the case where the details of the father is known.  Two of the clauses could be as follows:

  • The Respondent’s consent is not required for the departure of the minor child, Little One, with identity number 0813040502086 (hereafter referred to as “the minor child”), from the Republic of South Africa, and to relocate to France, as provided for in section 18(5) of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005;
  • The Respondent’s consent is not required for the return of the minor child to the Republic of South Africa for visits;

Founding Affidavit

In this document, you outline the facts of the matter. You would deal with why you want consent.

Opposing Affidavit

If the father opposes the Application, he would file this affidavit. In this document he would outline reasons why the court should not give consent.

Replying Affidavit

You would then get an opportunity to reply to the father’s allegations made.

Advice to parents who wants to relocate or temporary leave South Africa with the minor child

If you need to relocate, with a child, and the other parent refuses to give consent, speak to a legal advisor, or to us. They would advise you on your case, and if need be, assist or direct you to the proper people for an Application to court for an order that the requirement of consent is dispensed with. Should you be successful in such an application, the Order would be shown to the Department of Home Affairs when applying for a passport and when leaving the Country. The Officials would comply with the Order. The Order of Court can also be shown to the officials overseas should they want to know where the consent of the father is.

Advocate Cape Town Lawyer Attorney Legal High Court
Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf

In the same manner, should you want to leave South Africa to go overseas on holiday with the minor, approach us for advice should the other parent refuse to give consent. Your visit overseas could be to visit a family member, or just for a break. There should be no reason why you cannot take the minor child with you on holiday.

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27 thoughts on “Passport Application for my child. I cannot find the father to give consent at the Department of Home Affairs

  1. Afternoon
    My daughter has no contact with her father almost a year now. He doesn’t pay maintenance or any contribution in almost a year.
    I don’t know where he is. My yougest sister wants to invite me on hoilday to Germany December 2024. I know i must go to the high courts ( cape town) what paperwork is required to apply for an order ?

  2. Hi, what happens in a case where you don’t know who the father is? Unabridged birth certificate exists without fathers details.

    1. You must ask the Department of Home Affairs. If his details are not on the birth certificate, and the whereabouts are not known, then they may not require his consent for the passport.

  3. My 12 year old son’s father informed him on 24 December that he is emigrating to New Zealand and left on 1 January already. I now need to apply for a passport as we are going to Mozambique in March and his passport is expiring in April 2024. How do we go about to get a new passport for my child whilst the father is in Auckland, NZ? I don’t know where to start, who to ask or what to do. He is 8hrs drive from Wellington, where he supposedly have to go and he refuses to fly there and is unable to drive as he does not have vehicle as yet.
    Is there anyway I will be able to apply for a new passport without him being physically here? On all websites it states that both parents must be present. Surely there must be another way with this? We can not be the only family with a situation like this. Some guidance would be appreciated.

  4. Good morning
    I would like to apply a temporary passport for my daughter she is 16 yrs we are visiting Lesotho for 2 weeks for Christmas holidays, her father is not available for her since she was born how can I get it as soon as possible?

  5. Hi, I need a passport for my teenage son. His dad had refused 5 times to both my child and I.
    Appointments were made- he never pitched. Attorney letters were sent but to no avail. I am wasting money since the divorce 12 years ago and this narcissist is ruining my child’s life and growth and experiences. I am not relocating, but May holiday or for just in case. What can I do- quick and effective!

  6. Good day
    How would I go about applying for a passport for my 4 year old as well as his British passport?
    His father is in rehab for 6 months, however has given verbal consent to apply for both passports. Would this need to be in writing when I approach home affairs without him there due to him being in rehab?
    We were never married, have minimal contact and I am the sole caretaker for my son (as stated in court)

    1. Good day
      The father would have to go with to the Department of Home Affairs. Otherwise, you require a court order stating that he does not have to attend. Feel free to contact us on 0211110090.

  7. Good day,

    Im a single parent. The father of my child was not present since the time i told him i was pregnant. He made no effort to contact or provide maintenance.

    My child is egistered on my surname.

    I have acquired an opportunity to work abroad however i have not kept in contact with the father. When my child was 3 months we had done a paternity test confirming he was the father, in order for him to avoid an repercussions he got a lawyer to state he will contribute so much and spend so much time with my child on certain days. However it did not go further than that. He’s never made any effort to contact or pay maintenance.

    Im not really phased. I am more concerned on how to go about taking my child abroad with me.

    Please help. Look forward to your reply.


    THANK YOU for the response, even if he has stated and there are witnesses that he has a hold on me for the changing of my daughters surname as I will never be able to change it as he will refuse no matter what

  9. good day
    i need to find out what way i can change my daughters surname to mine as her father does not support her and i do not need him to support her as he has 3 or 4 other children which he supports from different woman. what is the process to get a order from the high court to do away with the fathers consent

    1. Good day

      We advise you to make use of an attorney to assist you. Maybe the attorney can first attempt to obtain the father’s consent. If he unreasonably refuses, then an application would have to be made to the court. It is a complicated process, which is beyond this reply.

    2. Good day

      We advise you approach an attorney. The attorney would make an application to Court. Draft a Notice of Motion and Founding Affidavit, issue it, and serve it on the father. He may decide to file an opposing affidavit etc.

  10. Nthabi I have a serious problems with my previous wife,I support a child vaya maintainance but she,’s not allowed me to cee the child,or send me the paper that acan produced to her as proof

    1. Good day

      You need to approach the Children’s Court in the area where your child lives for an order granting you reasonable contact to your child. The Court would decide what is best for the child.

  11. On my child birth certificate there’s only my details(mother) as the father denied my baby. Now I want to go on a holiday with my baby she is only a year old we want to go to Moz for a week.. Do I need an affidavid?

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