Father faces uphill in custody battle

Numerous factors are taken into consideration when a parent seeks full custody of a child.

12 May 2019 | People

Ingrid Husselmann Children’s Advocate “The deciding factor will always be in the best interest of the child.”

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw

A local man claims that social workers are discriminating against fathers fighting for the custody of their children.

James Martin* has been in a lengthy court battle to gain full custody of his 9-year old daughter. He says her mother wants to move to Windhoek, and take his daughter along. However, “her entire support system is in Walvis Bay. My daughter has told me countless times that she does not want to move. It’s not fair to uproot a child in the middle of the year and let her live with people she barely knows.”

Martin says he has approached both government and private social workers who told him even before scrutinizing the evidence that children in these cases usually go to the mother. “One social worker even laughed at me. They’ve already judged me as an unfit parent without looking at the evidence.”

Initial arrangements

Martin says that he and his ex-wife made an arrangement in August 2017 that his daughter would stay at his house after school, and that he could see her every second weekend. “I’m not saying that she is an unfit mother. This is about the wellbeing of my child. My daughter has asked me countless times to fight for her, so that’s what I am doing. I have a friend fighting for support money from her ex, and here I am doing the opposite – I’m providing for my child, but the law is tying my hands.

“Every day somewhere a child is hurt or murdered by someone they love, and I know I can protect my child. How many fathers suffer in silence with the same plight? How many have given up?”

According to Margret Richter, senior social worker responsible for child welfare in the Erongo region, there should be valid, legal reasons to remove a child from the custody of a parent.

“I cannot comment on the reactions of the social workers as I do not have all information. But the law is clear on custody and access where both parties have rights. Still, a parent has the right to move within the boundaries of Namibia without losing custody.”

She said that if someone feels they are not being treated fairly by social workers, a supervisor should be approached. “Going to the media won’t help your case or sort out your problem. Custody is never an easy process, but the best interest of the child should be the most important aspect, and not the interest of the parent.”

‘No discrimination’

Ingrid Husselmann, children’s advocate in the office of the Ombudsman, said that the laws aiming to protect children do not allow for discrimination against fathers. “Service providers like social workers would be wrong to advise a father that custody is always awarded to the mother without taking other factors into consideration. If there is an issue with social workers, approach a supervisor.”

Husselmann reiterated that both parents have equal rights and responsibilities regarding their children. “Where parents are not married or divorced, they must decide which parent will care for the child on a daily basis. The parent without custody has an automatic right to access. If the parents cannot agree, the children’s court will decide. The deciding factor will always be in the best interest of the child. A social worker report is required in all cases involving questions of custody, guardianship or access,” she said.

According to Husselmann, the Child Care and Protection Act 3 of 2015 (which came into operation on 30 January 2019) makes the best interest of the child the key consideration. “Since decisions regarding the care and protection of children are often complicated, the best interest standard aims to reduce conflict and simplify decision-making. The best interest standard is part of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Namibia is party to both these agreements.”

Child participation

Husselmann says that the Child Care and Protection Act recognises the importance of child participation and sets out children’s rights and responsibilities. “Children of sufficient age, maturity and stage of development must be given an opportunity to express an opinion about decisions which affect them. Such views must be given an appropriate degree of consideration bearing in mind the child’s age and maturity. This is important because children, like adults, have thoughts and feelings, responsibilities and opinions and should not be treated like objects to be argued over.”

She encouraged children, parents, members of the public or adults responsible for children to contact the children’s advocate at the office of the Ombudsman regarding any issues relating to the physical and emotional wellbeing of a child or children in general (a child is a person under the age of 18). Also visit their Facebook page or website, or call 061 2073111 or send an SMS to 20401.

*Name has been changed.

Similar News


Graduate shares her story

17 hours ago | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea LouwChloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and dusty streets...

Klokkie van hoop

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelDie agtjarige Marjuné Fleschig is verlede Oktober met leukemie gediagnoseer.Sewe maande later kan die gesin weer ’n bietjie asemhaal nadat sy verlede...

Aardse vreugde

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelOngeag jou eetstyl of dieetvoorkeure, almal is elke dan en wan lus vir 'n skeppie roomys of 'n pizza met kaas. En...

Jaime the ultimate champion

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Young Jaime Oosthuizen who participated in the Namibian Championships of Performing Arts was awarded the Junior Grand Champion of the Year 2019.Jaime, who is a...

Smart Boy prefers quality over quantity

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Adolf KaureSwakopmund-based rapper Faith Namaseb better known by his stage name Smart Boy, is currently working on new music. Speaking to this newspaper...

Baba Joshua sterk aan

2 weeks ago - 12 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelDie 4-maande oue baba van Gobabis wat met ’n geboortedefek gebore is, het verlede week sy tweede operasie in die hoofstad ondergaan....

Grabbing every opportunity

2 weeks ago - 12 May 2019 | People

Back in the day it was often hard for women to be heard and seen, but this entrepreneur decided to focus on her inner strength...

Speak for yourself

3 weeks ago - 05 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelEtched in Namibia's history are images of proud German troops, standing at attention next to the hanged bodies of Herero prisoners.Photography played...

A mother for many

3 weeks ago - 05 May 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Otis Finck The secret to a long life is having respect for your elders.Granny Magrietha “Mamas” Haoses, who is turning 103 year old...

The 'long wait' is finally over

3 weeks ago - 05 May 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Adolf Kaure The pioneer of Afrikaans rap in Namibia, Lownan Nangombe better known as Wambüseun, recently released his latest single titled “Lang Wag”...

Latest News

Een man se roeping om...

17 hours ago | Social Issues

Yolanda Nel Ongeag die uitdagings wat een man self in die gesig staar, het hy besluit dat wanneer God praat, dan bly jy steeds gehoorsaam...

Red die borste

17 hours ago | Health

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Hierdie entrepreneur wil graag in sy gemeenskap terugploeg en dus het hy besluit om geld in te samel om bystand te...

Ontbyt saam vir boere

17 hours ago | Disasters

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Wanneer ons eet, dink ons selde aan hoe die eier, melk of spek op ons bord beland het. Die meeste...

Erongo shudders under weight of...

17 hours ago | Disasters

Swakopmund • Leandrea LouwAlmost 13 000 bags of maize meal were distributed to households in the Karibib and Daures constituencies between November 2018 to March...

Graduate shares her story

17 hours ago | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea LouwChloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and dusty streets...

International recognition for Sun Cyles

17 hours ago | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel The co-founder of Namibia's own Sun Cycles was awarded the National Energy Globe Award during SACREEE's first industrial energy efficiency conference...

Plans to place water along...

17 hours ago | Disasters

//Ai-/Ais • Erwin Leuschner The popular Fish River hiking trail in southern Namibia is threatened with closure at the end of the month due to...

The world can be your...

17 hours ago | Education

The international vlogging competition Faces2Hearts is a competition organised by the European Union that aims to finding 20 young vloggers to take part in a...

Books and more for Nicolas...

17 hours ago | Education

The Nicolas Witbooi Memorial School along with the Omuthitu Combined School last week received textbooks and teacher's guides thanks to a generous donation by the...

Load More