A recent spike in cases of dads being denied access to their children has lead organisations such as Fathers 4 Justice to create campaigns to highlight the issue.
Spokesperson Gary da Silva said: “If you as parents are genuinely concerned about your child’s well-being, we encourage you to set up a care plan that allows for liberal contact, care, guardianship and maintenance of the child by both of the parents.
“We find using a priest or a rabbi quite successful to assist the couple to come to the best solution for all concerned.”
Data from Statistics in 2017 shows more wives than husbands, 12938 compared to 8878, initiated divorce proceedings
A distressed Cape Town father whose marriage ended last year told Weekend Argus: “My wife was emotionally and verbally abusive towards me, in front of the minor kids.
“When I moved out, seven days later she took out a protection order.”
The man, who did not want to be named, said the protection order stated he could only see his children under his wife’s supervision.
“Without any history of abuse (by him) - physical or emotional - the court granted this. She used this as a tool to manipulate me, and when I didn’t do as she asked she would threaten me with the protection order. In the last year I have been in and out of court a total of 61 full days.”
He alleged this resulted in his ex-wife preventing him from seeing their children.
“It got so desperate I involved Social Services to assess the children, but it took them three months to act.
“Then again, almost 18 months later, I still don’t see my children. They now have hatred towards me. The messages they send are hateful and derogatory.”
He said he was waiting for Social Services to assess whether his children were afflicted with parental alienation syndrome.
The emotional stress and trauma have resulted in the man losing his job, house and car.
“The only thing I look forward to is being reunited with my children,” he said.
David Thomson, senior legal adviser at Sanlam, said when a couple with children divorced, a court order stipulated the rights of the father, including visiting rights and access to the children.
In a case where parents had not married, the father would not have legal documentation on his side, and would have to be granted access to children through the courts.
To avoid that complication, unwed couples should draw up a partnership agreement, he advised.
Siphelo Mkhahluli from Mkhahluli Attorneys said when a mother would not abide by a court order allowing a father visiting rights, the father could resort to various measures.
“Communicate with the mother of the child. Stick to the agreed-upon court order and make arrangements to see the child.”
He suggested keeping written communication for evidence purposes.
Fathers 4 Justice can be contacted via [email protected] or www.f4j.co.za.