Who is the Family Advocate?
The Family Advocate is a neutral Family Law specialist whose main focus is the best interest of minor children. Even though we refer to the Family Advocate as one person, there are actually many Family Advocates working in the offices in the Western Cape and all other provinces of South Africa.
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE: What is the role of the Family Advocate?
In the context of uncontested divorce proceedings, the Family Advocate will have to endorse (approve) the parenting plan before a Judge (High Court) or Magistrate (Regional Court) will grant the divorce. By endorsing the parenting plan, he/she confirms that the arrangements in the parties’ parenting plan appears to be in the best interest of the minor children involved.
CONTESTED DIVORCE: What is the role of the Family Advocate?
In cases where there are disputes about care (previously referred to as “custody”) and contact (previously referred to as “access”) of minor children, the Family Advocate helps the parties (parents) to reach a suitable agreement.
The Family Advocate will evaluate the circumstances by doing interviews with the parties (parents) and the children involved. This will give the children the opportunity to be heard in a child-friendly space without having to appear in Court. The Family Advocate will use the information obtained to make recommendations to the court that are in the best interest of the minor children.
Are the recommendations enforceable?
Unless a recommendation is incorporated in a Court Order, it is not enforceable. The recommendations are only intended to help the Magistrate (Magistrate’s Court) or Judge (High Court) who deals with the matter.
The Family Advocate’s Fees
How much does the Family Advocate charge to endorse the parenting plan or to assist during disputes?
Family Advocates are legal officers employed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa. Their services are free of charge to the public. However, your attorney’s attendances and communications with the Family Advocate on your behalf is not free.
- The Family Advocate is a neutral Family Law specialist. He/she may not act as a legal representative for either of the parties. The Family Advocate may also not act as witness to give evidence on behalf of any party (parent) involved.
- In complex and/or high conflict cases, the Family Advocate may require further expert reports from (for example) forensic specialists or clinical psychologists. The parties (parents) are responsible for these costs.
The Family Advocate’s Contact Details
Visit this website for a comprehensive contact list.
Want to know more about parenting plans? Click here.
Nazli Williams (BCom LLB), the director of Patton Williams Attorneys, is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, specializing in Divorce and Family Law matters. Her fields of expertise and interest include Divorce Law, Family Law, Domestic Violence Law and International Divorce Law. Her vision is to demystify Family Law processes, helping good people in plain language and with great technology, to achieve remarkable results.