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D v D [2022] ZAGPJHC 1009

MIA J

19 December 2022

FAMILY – Children – Relocation – Croatia – With father during divorce – Daughter aged 13 – Views of child to be taken into account – Informed by experience of South Africa and Croatia – Wanting to relocate with her father – Father granted leave to remove daughter to Croatia.

Facts: The applicant (father) is from Croatia and met the respondent while working on humanitarian projects in South Africa. They got married and a daughter was born who is now aged 13. He has now issued a summons for divorce.

Application: Applicant urgently approaches the court seeking an order that he be permitted to remove the child from South Africa to permanently reside with him in Croatia.

Discussion: The contention by the applicant that Croatia is where his support system is based in the form of family and friends; that the voice of the child report and the family advocate indicate the child wishes to accompany the applicant to Croatia; that the family advocate’s report confirmed the child’s report that she had a better relationship with the applicant than with the respondent and that the child also expressed an affinity for Croatia and the applicant’s family; and that the respondent indicated that her relationship with the child has been strained.

Findings: The child is at an age where her view should be taken into account. The child’s view appears to informed by her experience of Croatia, the schools she will attend, the life she has lived in Croatia and her experience in South Africa as well as her relationship with her parents and extended family. The court is of the view that it is in the best interests of the child to relocate with the applicant. The opposition to the application appears to have been directed at the respondent’s interest rather than the child’s best interest.

Order: The applicant is granted leave to remove the child permanently from South Africa to Croatia. Directions are given for contact by the respondent. The respondent is ordered to pay the costs of the application.

MIA J

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