The Western Cape High Court has granted a Cape Town woman permission to relocate to Dubai with her children where they will be living with her American fiancé.
The woman was married and got divorced from the father of her children in January 2016.
The children were eight and three when their parents divorced. At the time of the divorce, both parties lived in Durban.
In March 2019, the woman relocated with the children to Cape Town. The father would visit the children and sometimes they would visit him.
In 2020, she started dating GJ, an American citizen. She said for almost two years, they have been living together with GJ as a family.
GJ, a consultant to a London-based law firm, has run his practice from Cape Town. The law firm, however, now requires him to resume his role at their Dubai office as soon as possible.
In her application, she said the children have developed a close relationship with GJ, who helps to care for them, and who has taken an active interest in their schooling, sport and social activities.
To add to that, in January 2023, they all went to America to meet GJ’s family. They met his mother, sister and other members of his extended family.
She said she has always been the children’s primary caregiver and wishes to continue living with them in Dubai.
Moreover, she will still be able to continue with her current employment and broaden her career opportunities, which is not an unreasonable aspiration, as she contributes significantly to the children’s financial support.
She said the relocation would not affect the father, as he has, for the most part, not been involved in the children’s education and extra-mural activities.
She volunteered to cover the costs of two return flights when the children visit their father.
In response, the father said the mother failed to discuss the move to Dubai with him first and he only heard about it from his child who said to him: “Dad, do you know that we are going to Dubai and that we have been accepted at a school there?”.
The father contended that the mother’s failure to consult with him prior to taking steps towards relocating was contrary to the provisions of the parenting plan.
The mother reasoned that she didn’t mention it at first because she wanted to first explore whether the move was feasible before raising it with him.
A family advocate who met with the children, told the court that the children were happy with the idea of moving and have been to Dubai before and were impressed by the country.
One of them said: ‘I loved it - Dubai is beautiful. It has great restaurants and nice people it was my favourite place before I even knew I was moving there’’.
The advocate said both children reiterated that they did not think there would be any difference in their relationship with the father, should they relocate.
It was further submitted that the mother does not appear to be trying to alienate the children from the father and the children are of an age and level of maturity to participate in decisions regarding their care and contact.
After hearing the arguments, the judge said the mother had carefully weighed and balanced the reasonableness of her decision to relocate, that her decision was genuine and reasonable, and that the relocation is in the best interests of the children.