Alienated from your child? A father asks for help


The mother of my child is refusing to give me access despite paternity test. What do I do?

Reprinted from Parent24, by Athenkosi Mndende – 2022-01-20

parental alienation

Many parents email us with heavy hearts stating that they are being alienated from their children.

Parental alienation happens when one parent refuses the other parent access to their child for no specific or real reason. Parental alienation can be damaging to the child and the alienated parent.

Here, a reader who is being alienated from his child despite DNA tests confirming that he is the father is asking us for advice on getting custody of the child before it’s too late.

He wrote:


I was never married. My girlfriend walked out because wedding agreements could not be met to her liking. Seven months after she walked out on me, she gave birth to my child, as tests clearly showed.

I tried to recover things, but that didn’t work. It’s been 4 years that I have been struggling to get the mother of my child to sign a parenting plan.

I long to see and get custody of my child.

My lawyer wants to ‘wait until she heads to court’, but that could be a long time from now and even too late. What help and advice can you provide me with, please?

– Anonymous

Durban-based attorney Atisha Ghela from Atisha Ghela & Associates told us:

“My approach is to be a proactive parent when it comes to issues about minor children, especially where one parent is being denied fair contact with the minor child by the other parent. It appears from the reader’s query that he seeks custody of the child. The Children’s Act of 2005 makes provisions for care and contact, and the words custody and access are no longer used. Both parents have joint guardianship or decision-making rights over their minor child. The parent with whom the child stays more permanently and considers it being her permanent home is considered the primary residence of the child. The non-primary resident parent will have contact (access) via a structured Parental Plan or Order of Court”.

She also advised that the reader should approach the Children’s Court in the area where the minor child resides immediately and seek the enforcement of his rights in respect of the minor child by applying for the registration of a Parental Plan.

Ghela says that the Children’s Court has its seat at all Magistrates Courts and is a very approachable institution.

“Parties can appear in person unrepresented, but they are allowed representation as well,” she says.

She says that the High Court also has similar jurisdiction over minor children. Therefore, it is best that the reader discusses his options with his advisor and take action immediately.

She says that the wait and see approach will only further prejudice his time with the child.

Get professional help with parenting issues

SD Law is a family lawyer in Cape Town. If you need help with child care and contact (custody and access) or a parenting plan, or if you have any questions about the Children’s Act and Amendment Bill, call family attorney Simon on 086 099 5146 or email We’ve helped many families reach agreement on complex parenting issues.

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The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.

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