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It is sad when a loved one passes away, especially when they have young children. In these circumstances what happens to the parent of the deceased i.e. grandparents and their contact with their grandchildren? In an ideal world it shouldn’t affect them seeing their grandchildren, but in reality the situation may become somewhat complicated.

Such a complicated situation arose in a matter before the Eastern Cape High Court. In this matter the grandparent’s son had passed away and the mother of the child had remarried. The mother abruptly stopped all contact between the child and the grandparents alleging that the grandparents were unfairly burdening the child by telling him that his real father “was in the sky”.

When considering matters of this nature the Court takes the following factors into account:

  • Best interests of the child
  • Relationship between the person and child
  • Degree of commitment that person has shown towards the child
  • Extent to which that person has contributed to the maintenance and/or upbringing of the child
  • Any other factor which the court considers necessary

It is usually in the best interest of a child that they maintain a close relationship with his/her grandparents. Members of the extended family play an important part in a child’s social and psychological development.

The court ruled that contact between the child and grandparents had to be re-instated.