A father’s application to have his twin children relocate with him and his fiancée to the UK has been dismissed in the Western Cape High Court.
The British father who was previously married to the mother of his children – a Zimbabwean national –sought the court to allow his 10-year-old girl and boy to relocate to where he has been living in the UK since August last year.
The father submitted his reasons for wanting to take his children with him as “not just due to the schools and medical facilities, but because the mother neglects them and ... they would be best cared for by me”.
The divorced couple have permanent residence in South Africa together with their children, who were born in the country and have lived here most of their lives.
There was a period of about 10 months from June 2016 until March/April 2017 in Australia, when the mother, who teaches English through online platforms, returned to South Africa with the children and the father stayed on in Australia until December 2018.
The father, a software engineer, accepted new employment in the UK last year, however was retrenched in January this year, and has received new employment and is “not assured of a regular or stable income”.
“He asserted that the benefits for the children if they were permitted to relocate are automatic access to free education and health care, since at the time he was unable to afford to keep them on a medical aid scheme and pay any additional medical expenses as well as their educational costs as agreed in the Consent Paper incorporated in the parties’ Decree of Divorce. He did not explain why he would not be able to resume these payments given the substantial increase he would be receiving in his income,” the judgment read.
According to a social worker’s report, both children have primary attachments with both parents.
Judge Judy Cloete said: “It is clear that the children miss the physical presence of their father dearly.
However, what is equally clear is that the mother has been their primary caregiver for most of their lives ...
Children’s voices must of course be heard, but they must equally be considered in context when evaluating the weight to be attached to them.
“It is apparent that neither of these children has the slightest comprehension of what it will be like to live permanently in a strange country thousands of kilometres away from their mother, with extremely limited contact at best. It is also of concern that the father appears to lack insight into the effect this is likely to have on them, both in the short and long term.”