JOHANNESBURG – A father has won in court to stop his ex-wife from relocating to Dubai with their 11-year-old daughter.
Judge David Makhoba ruled that evidence placed before him did not favour the mother’s court application.
The mother, who divorced the father in 2014, sought to relocate with the 11 year old identified as L to Dubai to join her new husband.
The daughter lived with her mother based on a primary residency agreement reached after divorce.
The father remained involved in her life and took her over as per the joint-parenting plan.
It became common cause before Judge Makhoba that L was close to both her parents and the immediate extended family members.
Judge Makhoba found the mother did not make a case about how L’s relationship with her father would be protected if she relocated.
It did not help the mother’s cause that L expressed a wish not to relocate to Dubai.
She revealed this in a letter she wrote to seek legal aid to participate in the case.
Her father brought Judge Makhoba’s attention to the letter.
“The letter which indicates L’s unwillingness to relocate to Dubai cannot be ignored by this court.
“I am obliged to take it into account,” said Judge Makhoba.
“Considering all the evidence before me, including the letter by L to the legal aid, I am of the view that it will not be in L’s best interest to relocate with the applicant to Dubai.
“Moreover, there is no proper arrangement between the parties how will the respondent maintain contact with L and who will finance the trips to and from Dubai.
“It is not stated what will happen should the mother fail to bring L to South Africa during school holidays.
“It is obvious that once L leaves South Africa, the respondent cannot enforce a South African court order in Dubai.”
Judge Makhoba said the court had a duty to safeguard the father’s rights too.
The mother indicated to the court that she would stay in South Africa if her application failed.
“The respondent (father) and his family have a strong bond with L.
“The respondent’s rights must also be protected by this court.
“The court must also guard against gender discrimination,” said Judge Makhoba.
“It is beyond doubt that L has close emotional bonds with both her mother and father’s extended relatives.
“In my view, L’s interest would be served by remaining in proximity to both parents and that a separation from either parent would be prejudicial to her wellbeing, especially when there is no amicable agreement between the applicant and respondent.
“I, therefore, find that the proposed relocation of L to Dubai is not in the best interest of L.”