Parental Contact with Children

20 Sep, 2015

At what age can the child legally decide for themselves whether they want to maintain contact with the other parent?

There is no set age in South African Law where a child under 18 can make a decision. The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 states that if a court is convinced that a child is of sufficient maturity to make his own choice and has not, for instance, been influenced by his parents in his choice, the court will take his choice into consideration.

In deciding whether to take the child’s wishes into account, the court considers the age, maturity and stage of development, gender, background and any other relevant characteristics of the child.

The test is set out in section 9 of the Act (best interests of child paramount): “In all matters concerning the care, protection and well-being of a child the standard that the child’s best interest is of paramount importance, must be applied”.