The Office of the Family Advocate
The Office of the Family Advocate is a branch of the South African judiciary and in fact assists the courts with all matters relating to minor children and the best interests of such children.
The Family Advocate also assists parents in court proceedings such as in divorce actions or custody applications to reach agreements on disputed issues of care, contact and guardianship related to children.
Their Legal Mandate
The Family Advocate, upon application by the parties or by order of a court may institute an inquiry during which the Family Advocate, assisted by a Family Counsellor (normally a trained social worker), interviews the parties to ascertain their personal circumstances and the background details to their matter. The Family Advocate then interviews the children to allow them the opportunity to be heard. This prevents the child from having to appear in Court.
The Family Advocate conducts these interviews as mandated by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005;
The services of the Family Advocate are rendered to the public free of charge. The Family Advocate is a legal officer employed by the Department of Justice and acts as legal representative of the children.
The Reporting Processes
The Office of the Family Advocate will upon the completion of the interview process, prepare reports as to what they believe may be in the best interests of the minor children.
These reports are not enforceable unless contained in a court order and only serve as recommendations to a court to assist with the Court’s adjudication process.
The Family Advocate is a neutral institution and cannot act as the legal representative for either litigant, in a matter. The Family Advocate can also not be subpoenaed to Court as a witness to give evidence on behalf of any party even if the report or recommendation is in favour of that party.
If you have any matter involving a minor child which may require judicial intervention, there is almost a guarantee that a court may refer the matter to the Office of the Family Advocate for an investigation to be carried out through the interview and reporting process explained above. Should you require such judicial intervention, contact us to assist you with your matter.