MAINTENANCE

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MAINTENANCE OF CHILDREN?

Child maintenance cases generally are quite challenging and exhausting and tend to be a lot more complicated than you originally thought.

The application for maintenance whether a first time application or variation or enforcement can be quite time consuming, the maintenance procedure is often met with delays however it is important to approach the court.

The department of justice have forms that can be downloaded and can assist you in completing the documentation before you even get to court.

A checklist of what you need is:

  • An ID Book or any form of identification, e.g. passport, driver's license
  • The children's birth certificates (certified copies)
  • Copy of decree of divorce if applicable
  • Bank statements for the last three months
  • Pay slips past three months
  • Fica documents, or proof of residence or lease agreements
  • List of your income and expenditure and proof of actual expenses, for example slips and accounts etc.
  • Details of the person who is responsible for paying maintenance, their work and physical work address

Parents seem to be under the impression that each parent must pay 50% towards the child's maintenance. This is not correct, as parents do not always earn the same amount of money.

The court will always consider the income and expenses of parents before deciding on an amount that should be contributed towards maintenance.

E.g. if a child for example costs R 60 per month and the father is only willing to pay R 10 towards the child. If the father earns R 500 per month and the mother R 250 per month, then in actual fact the father should contribute R 40 towards the child and not the R 10 as he offers.

In this example dad's often are worried that if they pay the mother that the money would be used on other things and not on the maintenance of the minor child. This is why it is so important to approach the court so it can be calculated and confirmed what is needed for the minor child and an order made accordingly.

Initially the enquiry is informal in front of a maintenance offer, and if settlement is reached the agreement is made an order of court. If settlement cannot be reached, then the matter will be heard in court by a magistrate and a formal financial enquiry will take place.The magistrate will make an order after hearing all the evidence and going through the parties' financial documents.

Maintenance for minor children does not end at the age of majority but only once the children become self-sufficient.

OTHER FORMS OF MAINTENANCE INCLUDE

SPOUSAL MAINTENANCE ( after a divorce)

South Africans probably understand the American word better “alimony”, however this is very seldom granted in South Africa and factors such as age and work experience would have to be taken into account.

A sixty five year old woman who was a house wife for most of her life would be more eligible for spousal maintenance after a divorce than a fourty year old.

REHABILITATIVE MAINTENANCE (usually after a divorce)

Occurs where a spouse for example stayed at home to look after the children and did not work for the duration of the marriage. She / he would be entitled to maintenance for a period of about two years to assist the spouse to obtain training and enter the job market and become gainfully employed.

Please note that the information on this page is not legal advice and we advise that you approach a legal representative to advise you accordingly on your matter.