South Africa – Pretoria – Victory sets precedent for unwed fathers

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For the original article GO – http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20090930041737753C492097

 

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From Jeff

[[In a ruling described as “precedent-setting” by the University of Johannesburg’s Law Clinic, Jose Williams was yesterday declared to have full parental rights and responsibilities over Timia, who he nearly lost to an adoption he fiercely opposed.]]

[[“I owed it to her. This whole thing has always only been about my daughter.”-Jose Williams ]]

Victory sets precedent for unwed fathers

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20090930041737753C492097

Karyn Maughan
September 30 2009 at 07:26AM

Timia Faith Williams has no idea how hard her father Jose fought to stop her from being taken away from him. Nor does the one-and-a-half-year-old have any inkling how her dad’s battle for her has won significant ground for the rights of unmarried fathers to their children.

Flinging her tiny arms around her father’s legs, bringing him the gift of her favourite stuffed toy and staring intently at his face, it was, however, obvious that the little girl loved her dad.

In a ruling described as “precedent-setting” by the University of Johannesburg’s Law Clinic, Jose Williams was yesterday declared to have full parental rights and responsibilities over Timia, who he nearly lost to an adoption he fiercely opposed.

The ruling was made under the new Children’s Act, where an unmarried father can acquire full parental responsibilities and rights if he consents to be identified as the child’s father, or has contributed to the child’s upbringing or maintenance.

Williams declared to have full parental rights and responsibilities
According to Law Clinic principal Alet Beyl, who represented Williams, the decision will enable unmarried fathers to take full responsibility for their children without needing to adopt them.

After nearly two years of expensive court wrangling to disprove false accusations that he was an abusive and mentally unstable drug addict unfit to care for his daughter, 27-year-old Williams says the ruling has made him “the happiest person in the world right now”.

He also maintains that he has forgiven his baby’s mother and the Abba adoption agency for making the baseless claims that resulted in Timia being institutionalised for the first nine months of her life.

“I honestly believe I am a stronger person now,” Williams said yesterday. He said he wished Timia’s mother “only the best”.

Hours after he was granted full parental rights to his daughter in the Pretoria High Court, Williams told The Star that his fight for Timia – who he described as “naughty, beautiful and friendly” – had been motivated by the belief that “I owed it to her. This whole thing has always only been about my daughter.”

Speaking from the Kensington home he shares with his mother and sisters, Williams said he “felt like jumping up and down” when he was finally granted full rights to his child.

He was a far cry from the desperate man whose plight was first highlighted by The Star last year.

Williams’s ordeal began two months before his daughter was born, when the child’s mother approached Abba and asked them to arrange for the adoption.

According to the baby’s mother, this was because the agency had helped her when she fell pregnant at 17, and she wanted them to arrange that the same couple who adopted her previous baby be given Williams’s child.

But Williams was adamant that he would never give up his daughter. He maintains, amid vehement denials from Abba, that despite the new Children’s Act, he was repeatedly told that there was nothing he could do to stop Timia’s adoption.

Hospital records also show that, soon after her birth, Abba staff discharged Timia from hospital and took her to a place of safety without her father’s consent.

Abba later recommended to the Pretoria Children’s Court that Williams be given custody of the child.

Smiling as his daughter tried to climb up his leg, Williams said: “I am looking so forward to the rest of my life with Timia… The worst is over now. The best has begun.”

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