Pretoria – Parents abuse one another in court on child custody issues to prove they are “good”.
But “good” or “bad” parents should never be used as an argument, as it is always about the child’s best interests.
This is according to a judge who said the courts are tired of mothers and fathers (and their lawyers) both trying to paint a dark picture of the other in an attempt to convince the courts that they were the best parents.
Judge SJ Wilson, who was on the Joburg High Court, noted that there was never a “winner” in these cases because the child always suffered.
He suggested that lawyers not crawl into the characters of the parents on the other side and rather stick with the facts.
He also strongly encouraged quarreling parents to think twice before disguising themselves on court records. The judge commented that when parents are angry they should step back and reconsider.
These comments were made when Judge Wilson was confronted with an angry father who wanted sole custody of his young daughter.
The man had such strong words about his estranged wife’s behavior that the judge said he had chosen not to repeat them.
“I can only hope that he now regrets it,” was all the judge was willing to say in his judgment.
Both parents are recovering from drug addicts who met in a rehabilitation facility, and their relationship appeared to offer a way out of addiction.
In the papers presented to the court, each party tried to convince the judge that the other had relapsed and routinely used drugs.
The judge said he could not accept any allegations other than a brief relapse the wife suffered two years ago, which she admitted.
“What is important is that both parties are struggling with addiction and will likely struggle with susceptibility to addiction for the rest of their lives. Hence, having the social support network they can rely on is vital for both their wellbeing and Hs (the daughter).
“The strength and stability of such a network is clearly relevant in assessing whether a parent can meet a child’s need for a stable family environment or something that is as similar as possible to such an environment,” said the judge.
The father turned to a court for sole custody of his daughter, saying his wife recently moved out of the blue. She took her child and moved in with another man. The father protested that his child lived there, especially since he claimed the mother was still using drugs and that her new lover had abused cannabis.
“It is undisputed that Mr T (the new lover) is a recreational cannabis user.
“You can absolutely not attach any moral disgrace with that. As long as it takes place privately, there is no penalty associated with it, ”said the judge.
However, he said the mother’s history of addiction and her lack of practical, reliable support from those who do not use drugs regularly placed a significant risk to her ability to heal H.
The court found that the father had a stable employment and support structure like his parents had to look after the child and that they should live with him until the family attorney’s office examined both parents and provided further advice to the court.