Unwed co-parents should consider working together by outlining their rights and responsibilities to create a sustainable amicable relationship for the benefit of their child.
The dynamic of a family relationship has evolved nowadays to the extent where unwed parents hardly ever raise an eyebrow in society any-more. The very few unwed parents who go on to have a normal family relationship under the same roof sharing the responsibilities of raising their children don’t need their rights and responsibilities read out to them or have court endorsed documents allowing them contact with their children.
However the majority of this dynamic are unwed parents who have discontinued their relationship during pregnancy or after the birth of their child and for these co-parents a structure must be put in place to ensure that their child’s best interests are taken care of.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa recognised the rights of children and the Children’s Act of 2005, was developed in the light of these constitutional rights by giving full meaning to the “best interests of the child“.
According to the Children’s Act both parents, despite being unwed, may either have full or specific parental responsibilities and rights in respect of their child. These include the responsibility and the right to care for their child; to maintain contact with their child; to act as a guardian of their child; and to contribute to the maintenance of their child.
Mediation assists unwed co-parents to develop a schedule of contact arrangements in a detailed parenting agreement and develop a suitable schedule of the maintenance costs towards their child.
By engaging in this process the co-parents are able to afford their child a routine and a stable life while sharing his or her living arrangements between two homes. These schedules can be discussed, as early as when the child is born or while the child is still a minor and will be part of an evolving document in accordance with the developmental stage of the child.