Legally defining parental abandonment of a child : a comparison between South African law and Californian law.
Vadivalu, Gerard Yovan.
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This dissertation evaluates some selected legal provisions (local, international and foreign) relevant to the social ill of parental abandonment of children. Parental abandonment tends to have serious consequences and is classifiable as a severe form of child neglect and abuse, whereby parents withhold proper care and protection from their child/ren. International law is committed to preserving the parent-child relationship. On a national level, these international law provisions have been given effect to by the South African Constitution. The South African provisions on parental abandonment are contained in relevant parts of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. In particular, section 150(1)(a) accompanied by section 1 of the Children’s Act expressly addresses parental abandonment of children. In this dissertation these provisions are evaluated and shown to be inadequate. As a means of providing a comparative analysis and for purposes of recommending reforms of the South African law applicable to parental abandonment of children, this dissertation explores and discusses Californian statutory law, judicial decisions and the writings of authoritative commentators. Reference is also made to the laws of some of the other states of the US. Each of the 50 states that make up the US has enacted laws applicable to abandonment. It is shown that US law covering challenges raised by parental abandonment is far more comprehensive than South African law In the final part of the dissertation, proposals are made for improvements to the South African law covering parental bandonment. These proposals are offered in the form of additional wording which could be added to the Children's Act. Explanations and commentary is included with the recommended additional wording.
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