Applicant and Respondent married in 1993 and divorced in 1996. They remarried in 1997, and again divorced in 1999. Two children were born during their ﬁrst marriage. According to an agreement reached during the second divorce, both Applicant and Respondent are joint custodians of the children, who live with Applicant. Applicant moved to Cape Town, and applied to the court for sole custody of the children. Applicant argued that it was impossible to have joint custody while he lived in Cape Town. Respondent countered that it was unlawful for Applicant to move to Cape Town without her consent. Moreover, she claimed that he did so with the intention of frustrating her right to joint custody.
The Court noted that joint custody is intended to establish a strong personal relationship between children and both parents. It provides parents with the opportunity to remain involved in their children’s lives, and assures children that they are wanted and loved by both parents. If both parents are ﬁt for custody, they should have an equal say in raising their children. In addition to promoting the best interests of the children, joint custody enhances gender equality.
The Court dismissed the petition for sole custody, and maintained the joint custody agreement. The Court noted that Respondent’s application regarding access was only partly granted. While Respondent sought extended access, she was granted access only for (i) every short school holiday, (ii) half of every long school holiday, (iii) daily telephone communications, (iv) one weekend every two months, and (v) every other long weekend.