Relocation and repatriation of minor children during the South African National Lockdown


Relocation and repatriation of minor children during the South African National lockdown. Is it possible if there is no consent from the other parent?

Many parents before the lockdown had the intention to relocate to another country. It goes without saying that whatever plans they had to relocate at the start of the lockdown, was placed on hold. Having passed day 100 of the national lockdown, things have since changed.  Domestic travel has been allowed under certain circumstances and many people have been repatriated to their home countries.

International travel, other than that for repatriation is allowed under certain circumstances. We advise those parents who wish to leave South Africa to consult the relevant regulations and the laws applicable to the country you wish to travel when deciding to leave South Africa.

The high unemployment rate in South Africa due to the National Lockdown

Then there is the issue of unemployment. The South African economy is not in good shape, and many businesses have closed due to the lockdown and COVID-19.  Many people lost their jobs and various forms of income due to the pandemic. Not being able to work, means not being able to pay for accommodation, food, clothing and school fees, to mention a few. Those people who lost their jobs may wish to seek employment and other economic opportunities abroad. For such parents, relocation may be the best option for them and the child concerned. If repatriation is possible, this option may be better.

Gaudian consent is required for the repatriation or relocation of minor children

But what about those parents who may relocate with their minor children, but does not have the consent of the other parent. What can that parent do under those circumstances? As the law stands, both parents who have parental responsibilities and rights of guardianship must consent for the removal of the minor child from South Africa.

A mother naturally has guardianship rights over her child. Father’s, on the other hand, would have full guardianship rights over the child if he was married to the mother or if he materially formed part of the child’s life. If he was just part of the conception of the child, and never married the mother, then he would not have any guardianship rights.

If no consent is obtained, then the Court should be approached

If a parent, wishes to relocate overseas, or repatriate with a minor child, and the other parent does not want to consent thereto, then the Court must be approached for the necessary consent. At the end of the day, the court would decide and look at what is in the child’s best interests. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic, this factor would now also be considered. The court would have to consider the state of the pandemic in South Africa, as well as the country to which the parent wishes to relocate, with a range of the usual factors.

Legal Articles on the relocation of minor children

Have a look at the following articles on the issue of relocation of minor children.

Passport Application of a Minor Child and Consent – Department of Home Affairs

Consent for a minor child for relocation and passport application

Frequently asked questions regarding relocation and consent when it comes to minor children

I want to relocate with my minor child. what do I need to know with regard to the law?

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Advocate South Africa

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