It’s his boy — and his name

Sunday Times - - News Education - By TA­NIA BROUGHTON

● It has been his best Christ­mas present ever. “I can­not stop cry­ing,” the man said this week. “This means ev­ery­thing to me.”

The Jo­han­nes­burg-based dad was speak­ing af­ter a court ruled that his fiveyear-old son would carry his name.

The ac­tion against the child’s mother has taken 18 months and set a le­gal prece­dent.

Fam­ily law ex­perts said the rul­ing was a step for­ward in broad­en­ing the rights of un­mar­ried fa­thers.

The judge also or­dered that the child’s sur­name be dou­ble-bar­relled on the birth cer­tifi­cate to prop­erly re­flect his iden­tity.

The child’s mother is a Durban-based busi­ness­woman. Nei­ther par­ent can be named to pro­tect the iden­tity of the child.

“As a fa­ther, I have not been able to take any­thing for granted. I have had to fight to be recog­nised, feel­ing like I was al­ways on the back foot,” the fa­ther said.

In her rul­ing, Durban high court judge Jac­qui Hen­riques said the cou­ple had an ac­ri­mo­nious re­la­tion­ship and “can­not agree on any­thing”.

She said she had to de­ter­mine what was in the best in­ter­ests of the child.

“A name is an im­por­tant as­pect of iden­tity and per­son­al­ity,” she said.

“Leg­is­la­tion en­acted in 2002 pro­vides for a child to be as­signed the sur­name of ei­ther the fa­ther, the mother or a dou­ble-bar­relled sur­name. How­ever, a clear dis­tinc­tion is drawn in cir­cum­stances where a child is born out of wed­lock.”

The judge said it was un­de­ni­able that the fa­ther was de­voted to his son and committed to play­ing a mean­ing­ful role in his life.

“In my view, the al­ter­ation of his name can only be in the best in­ter­ests of the child … in ad­di­tion to main­tain a healthy re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther and give recog­ni­tion to both his birth rights, a dou­ble-bar­relled sur­name recog­nis­ing both par­ents and their com­mit­ment to him can hardly be said not to be in his best in­ter­ests.”

Fam­ily law spe­cial­ist Benita Ar­den­baum de­scribed the judg­ment as a move in the right di­rec­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.