A mother embroiled in several post-divorce battles with her ex-husband over their two children has been declared a vexatious litigant, reports TimesLIVE.

This means she cannot institute any further court proceedings against him or his new wife without the consent of a judge, who must be satisfied they are not an abuse of court processes.

Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) Acting Judge Gillian Benson has also directed that her ruling be brought to the attention of the SAPS ‘in the event that the respondent (the mother) lays further criminal charges’ against her ex and his new wife.

The couple were married in 2004 and divorced in 2017. Their children are aged 12 and 13.

While the mother was first given primary residence of them, this was changed after various court applications and forensic assessments.

Benson said the parties had been embroiled in a ‘multiplicity’ of court matters since April 2018. The mother had also laid numerous criminal charges against her ex and his new wife.

‘Even during the week of this matter being heard, other proceedings were being heard in the lower court, between the same parties,’ the judge said. ‘The constant barrage of litigation is endless. The minor children have borne the brunt of this with serious concerns raised on the part of forensic psychologists regarding (the mother’s) parenting abilities.’ 

Benson said at the time of hearing argument in the matter (in May), the mother had refused to return one of the children to her father.

As a result the child was not attending school.

‘This precarious situation will in all probability necessitate further legal proceedings. The (mother) continuously conducts herself in this manner that maximises harm to the children. She does so with impunity ... she repeatedly disregards settlement agreements and court orders and accuses all professionals engaged in attempting to assist the children of bias. Unfounded criminal complaints of alleged sexual and physical abuse of the children, and of kidnapping, are repeatedly laid.’ 

TimesLIVE notes that she said the father and his wife had been forced to incur great expenses to ‘protect themselves and the children’ over several years.

Benson said ordinarily, to deprive a litigant access to justice would cause injustice and inequity, but the Vexatious Proceedings Act had passed constitutional muster.

The judge also had words for lawyers who deal with family matters who, she said, ‘often encouraged the acrimonious conduct’ with debilitating effects on former spouses, children and extended family matters.

‘Family law practitioners ought to discourage the continued harm that is caused by such conduct, but unfortunately, there are a select few who do not.’

Full TimesLIVE report