Single parents have all the obligations that parents in partnerships have, which apply until the child is 18.
These obligations, as stated in the Children’s Act of 2005, include meeting the child’s entitlement to the equal care and support of both parents. These responsibilities can however be excluded by the court if a parent is found to be unfit, abusive or damaging to the child.
In line with these, a single mother has the right to the custody of her child, the right to expect cooperation and respect from the child, the right to any income that the child might make, and the right to take legal action against anyone found guilty of unlawfully injuring or ending the life of the child.
The new Children’s Amendment Bill of 2018, seeks to clarify under which circumstances the unmarried father may be entitled to the same parental rights as the mother – and many other issues. Parliament will introduce the Bill for possible ratification this year.
Both parents bear equal responsibility for the child under the law. These responsibilities include supporting and contributing to the overall wellbeing of the child.
David Thomson is senior legal adviser for Sanlam Trust