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Family Advocate

The family advocate is the institution that assists the parents to reach an agreement on disputed issues - such as the care, contact and guardianship of the child - free of charge.

When parents fail to reach an agreement with regards to their child's current and future circumstances, the family advocate evaluates their specific situation and makes recommendations to the court regarding the care, guardianship and contact of the child.

The purpose of the family advocate

The family advocate promotes and protects the interest of the children in parental responsibilities and rights disputes.

Generally, the Office of the Family Advocate is made up of lawyers (family advocates) and social workers (family counsellors) who work in multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that the best interest of the child remains a priority throughout the dispute resolution process.

The powers and duties of the family advocate

The powers and duties of the family advocate are:

  • Making recommendation to the court with regards to any matter concerning the welfare of the minor child.
  • Appearing at the trial or hearing of any relevant application.
  • To adduce available evidence and cross-examine witnesses who give evidence at the trial or hearing of an application.

The powers and duties of the family advocate have been extended by the Children's Act, making it compulsory for parents to attend mediation by a family advocate in parental rights and responsibilities disputes over a child.

Why do you need a family advocate?

You can consult with a family advocate if you have a divorce pending in court, or if you have minor or dependent children whose care, contact and guardianship are being disputed.

Any divorce settlement agreements or parenting plans should also be endorsed by a family advocate prior to a divorce being granted.

You will also need to consult with the family advocate when:

  • You draft a parental responsibilities and rights agreements
  • You apply for the registration of a parenting plan
  • Amending or terminating an existing agreement
  • Changing care, contact, guardianship and visitation agreements
  • Applying for care, contact or guardianship to be defined
  • Dealing with disputes that may arise from parental responsibilities and rights
  • Dealing with care, contact or guardianship disputes that may arise due to the termination of a customary marriage
  • Dealing with maintenance or domestic violence cases
  • Dealing with a child being abducted by his or her parent in South Africa
  • Addressing any matter that involves a minor or dependent child, where the court has ordered the intervention of the family advocates

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated | Family Advocates in Johannesburg

For family advocates who use proven techniques of alternate dispute resolution, while working in liaison with other professionals (such as psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers) in order to assist your family and ensure that the best interest of your child remains a top priority, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated.