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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Of biological bonds, new fathers and the best interests of children
Author:Bonthuys, E.ISNI
Periodical:South African Journal on Human Rights
Geographic term:South Africa
Subject:illegitimate children
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02587203.1997.11834961
Abstract:This article focuses on the debate surrounding the definition of parenthood, and especially fatherhood, currently taking place in South African family law. The debate centres on the concept of 'the best interests of the child' and essentially involves a struggle to determine the content of this concept. The author argues that two interrelated developments can be discerned. The first is that there seems to be a reconceptualization of fatherhood and its importance, and the second, subsumed by the first, is a tendency in some cases to emphasize the importance of biological relatedness between fathers and children. The author examines these tendencies, as manifested in a number of recent cases brought before the courts in South Africa, and outlines the implications arising from the apparent contradiction between the concept of biological father and nurturing father, the appeal to nature as an absolute, conflicting images of families, and the reopening of the debate surrounding the Fathers' Rights Movement. The discussion illustrates that, far from being a neutral criterion, the best interests test is inherently value-laden. Furthermore, the best interests test lacks predictability as a result of the extensive discretion granted to the courts to identify the factors relevant to a determination of the best interests of a child. Notes, ref.