WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE FAMILY ADVOCATE

A3The Family Advocate has many duties but in the context of Divorce Law, they are mostly consulted for making sure that all Parenting Plans and divorce Consent Papers are in the best interest of any minor children involved. The public can, however, also have access to the Family Advocate and it is important to note that they offer a free service.

The roles of the Family Advocate include the following: to provide education to family members and to others involved in the systems serving the family and youth; to help identify the strengths and needs of families; to be a mediator between the system and the family by helping to educate professionals on the strengths and needs of the family; to help family members understand the different roles of the agencies involved in the system and how they may affect the family and assist families in identifying and utilizing necessary services.

A Family Advocate helps state and local agencies and systems adopt more strengths-based and family-driven programs, policies, and services. The focus is to better meet the needs of families and their youth who have mental illness, co-occurring disorders or substance use disorders and improve outcomes for all, including families, youth, and the agencies they utilize.

A Family Advocate also has the authority to draft Parenting Plans at no cost which will help provide the minor child with a stable and suitable schedule between the two parents. A Family Advocate cannot however provide for a maintenance amount as this falls under the jurisdiction of the maintenance court. Should a parent feel like they are not sure of their rights or responsibilities towards their minor child, the Family Advocate can be approached in order to arrange a meeting between the two parties to mediate the rights and responsibilities between the two parties. This process is also at no cost, however should one of the parties deny the meeting, the Family Advocate has no authority to subpoena them to attend the meeting.

The Family Advocate is a perfect remedy for parents who have their child’s best interest at heart and who aim to provide a stable environment for the child when both parents are no longer together.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

THE ADOPTION PROCESS

A2Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.

  • Ronald Reagan

Recently Child Protection Week was celebrated in South Africa. I therefore decided that it would be suitable for me to write this article on a topic I have been currently dealing with and which is related to us wearing green ribbons during Child Protection Week.

I was recently approached by clients regarding an adoption of minor children. Seeing as this field of our law is fairly new and unfamiliar to me, I have delved into extensive research on this topic and even had a consultation with a social worker who has more than two decades’ experience in this field.

I am sure that to people who are not familiar with the process it may seem that the South African legislation regarding adoption is unclear, ambiguous and even cumbersome, but after doing proper research and speaking to the “right people” I am, for the first time, beginning to feel a bit more confident on this alien topic.

Due to the complexity of an adoption application I shall merely be setting out a simplistic framework of an adoption application procedure.  In the South African adoption process there are mainly four phases:

  1. The application

The only ways to legally adopt a child in South Africa are by working through an accredited adoption agency or even with the help of an adoption social worker.

  1. The Screening process

This phase involves orientation meetings with the prospective adoptive parents, interviews with the social worker, full medical examinations, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits and police clearance and checking of references.

  1. The Waiting List

After completion of the aforementioned phase the prospective adoptive parents are placed on a waiting list for a child. The prospective adoptive parents can decide on the age and sex of the baby or child they would like to adopt.

  1. The Placement

The Children’s Court is in control of this phase. Once the child has been with the new parents for a period of time and the social worker has assessed the adoption to be in the best interest of the child, the Children’s Court will finalise the adoption.

I am privileged enough to go home to a healthy eighteen-month old daughter every day after a long day at the office. And even though I realise that the adoption process is a lengthy and costly affair, I can honestly say that the sacrifice of time, stress and money would surely fade in comparison to the wonder that is motherhood!

Compiled by:  Annerine du Plessis

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

INTERNATIONAL MANDELA DAY

A1International Mandela Day is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela. This day is celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared as “Mandela Day” by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day being held on 18 July 2010.

In April 2009, the 46664 concerts and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invited the global community to join them in support of an official Mandela Day. Mandela Day is a day which is dedicated in tribute of the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former president, and his values, by means of volunteering and community service. This day is therefore, not meant as a public holiday.

Mandela Day is a global call to action that drives the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make a change in the world.

The Mandela Day campaign message is:

“Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.”

According to a statement issued on his behalf, Mandela had the following to say about Mandela Day: “We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity“.

For 67 years, Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humankind – as a Human Rights Attorney, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and as the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

Schnetler’s will be taking part in Mandela Day as a firm. We believe that in order for South Africa to be a better country for every citizen, it starts with us, with the people of South Africa. Every citizen of South Africa needs to come together in order to fight for a better future for all.

Dedicate 67 minutes of your day on 18 July 2016 to the betterment of your society. It doesn’t have to cost you anything, except for your time.

Compiled by:  Laura Ames

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)