Here you can Find Answers to most of your Maintenance & Child Support Questions in South Africa.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Who is responsible for paying maintenance?
Both parents, whether they are (or were) married or not, have a duty to support their children. If they are unable to do so, the grand parents may be liable.
Do I need a lawyer to represent me in the maintenance court?
No, you don’t need an attorney to represent you. You do have the right to use an attorney if you can afford one, but it isn’t compulsory. Few single parents can genuinely afford the expense. This is why we at My Maintenance Guru have created affordable resources fo you. See our ‘Products’ page and keep in touch – we’ll be adding new products every few weeks.
Do the maintenance obligations of the parents end when the child turns 18?
Not necessarily, the obligation of maintenance should continue until the child is self sufficient. A child of 18 who still lives at home and is continuing with his studies will still require financial assistance. The support may however diminish depending on circumstances and of course the ability of the young adult to find part time employment. Furthermore, in many cases the claim for maintenance will be that of the child, not the the ‘custodian’ parent.
I am looking after my sisters children, can I make an application for maintenance?
Yes, because the parents are legally obliged to pay maintenance for their children. You can apply to receive maintenance from both parents.
How much maintenance should be paid?
Each case is different; there is no right or wrong answer. Parents should contribute to the cost according to their means. For example, if the child’s monthly cost amounts to R2 000.00 (which would be on the low side) and the mother earns R4 000.00 per month while the father earns R6 000.00 per month, their respective contributions should be 40% and 60%. In effect the mother would pay R800.00 per month and the father R1 200.00 per month.
How can I accurately determine what my childrens monthly costs are?
It’s a time consuming exercise. Every expense, both the household overheads and the expenses specific to each child, must be accounted for. If you take short cuts by guessing, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. There is a step-by-step guide available for purchase on our Products page. It’s a lengthy document that takes you through the Maintenance Court application “Income & Expenditure” pages that you will be required to complete when applying for your order. The form is deceptive because most people don’t realise how many factors there are to consider within each item. We’ve done half the work for you, giving you many useful hints and tips along the way.
What if my ex goes on to have more children with someone else; will he still need to pay maintenance for our children?
Yes. He can’t stop paying maintenance because he has other children. He has a legal duty to support all of his children, equally (that is, no one child is of greater importance than another). Non payment of maintenance is a criminal offence!
He hasn’t paid his maintenance for several months, can I stop his visits with our children?
No. Maintenance and contact (access) issues are handled separately in court. You cannot withhold access if he falls behind with his payments. Non-payment of maintenance is a criminal offence, for which he can be sent to prison. (Denial of access is too). You have to continue allowing him access and take the arrears up with the maintenance courts.
My ex is unemployed and claims he has no means of paying maintenance. His family can afford to assist, is there anything that can be done?
Yes, in certain circumstances grandparents can be ordered to pay maintenance. In very rare cases, siblings can also be held liable for support.
My ex has not been honest with the maintenance courts, he’s not disclosing all the details of his assets, investments and business interests. I also know he earns alot more than he is claiming. How can I prove he is lying?
Maintenance courts have full time investigators who are available to assist in such a situation. Take whatever information you have to the maintenance investigator and he can look in to the matter for you. Alternatively, watch this site. We shall be creating ‘Help Guides’ and other products to make things easier fo ryou – at a fraction of the cost of consulting an attorney of your own.
I have been unemployed for the last year, but have managed to keep up to date with my maintenance payments using my retrenchment payout and pension. I’m now running out of money and still haven’t managed to secure suitable employment. What can I do? Can my ex have me sent to jail?
Failure to pay is a criminal offence, so if you stop paying or start short-paying, then a warrant of arrest might be issued for you. Don’t allow the matter to deteriorate to that extent. Approach the Maintenance Court and make application for a reduction.
I pay my maintenance in cash every month as the mother of my children does not have a bank account. I have never missed a payment or ever been late with the money, but after an argument recently she threatened to lock me up for not paying. What can I do?
You have two options: Option 1: Stop paying her and make your payments to the court every month. She will then have to go down to the courts to collect the money herself. The courts will keep a record and there can be no dispute. Option 2: Get a duplicate book (available from any stationery store). Before making payment to her draw up a receipt showing the date, amount you are paying and specifying that it’s for maintenance. You must then make her sign the receipt to say she has received the money. Give her the top copy and keep the permanent copy for yourself – keep the book in a safe place!
My ex and I are expecting a baby soon. We are not together anymore but I want to be an active parent. In terms of maintenance, do I only start paying when the baby has been born or do I start paying during the pregnancy?
During the course of the pregnancy you will have to contribute to the expenses the mother will incur. Such expenses will include antenatal medical expenses, hospital costs for the delivery as well as doctors and the like. It doesn’t end there though. You must also contribute towards the ‘layette’ (clothing and equipment which the mother will need when she brings the baby home) and you may even be required to contribute towards maintenance for the mother while she is on maternity leave, to compensate for loss of earnings. As soon as the baby has been born you will need to start paying maintenance proper – i.e. a set amount per month.
My ex and I are on very amicable terms. We have a verbal agreement regarding the maintenance for our children and he pays every month. Is it still necessary to go to Maintenance Court?
Yes, it is still necessary. While it’s great that you and your ex get on so well, it may not always be the case. A ‘verbal’ agreement is not enforceable, which means that if you do fall out in the future and there is a dispute about the maintenance, you have no recourse. It is best to have your current agreement made an order of court as soon as possible. The process is simple; there is an application form (available on the “Free Resources” page of our site). In addition you will complete a ‘Consent’ form – also available on our site. Follow our instruction for the completion and steps to have it made in to a court order. The step-by-step guide to completing the forms will be available soon on the “Products” page. This whole process may take only one visit to the Maintenance Court, if you do everything correctly.
I was divorced a few years ago and recently remarried. My ex wife wants an increase in maintenance and is demanding that I account for my current wifes income. My new wife has no financial obligation to my children, what does her income have to do with my maintenance payments?
While you are correct that your new wife has no obligation to maintain your children, she does have an obligation to contribute to the household you share with her. If she is paying her share of the expenses then this will have a direct and significant impact on your ability to pay maintenance. You therefore must account for her income and contribution to the household expenditure.
My childs contributes very little in the way of maintenance. He works only part time and earns very little, but he chooses to do so. He inherited a great deal of money from his deceased parents. Had he not received this inheritance he would be forced to work full time and earn much more to support himself financially. Is there anything that can be done?
Yes, salary alone is not a complete picture of ‘means’; maintenance is payable not only from income, but form a person’s ‘means’. The fact that he chooses to work only part time is not relevant. He can be ordered to use his capital in order to maintain his child adequately. He must disclose details of all his assets, investments and business interests to the Maintenance Court. If he refuses to do so then approach the Maintenance officer, they may require a Maintenance Investigator (also employed at the Maintenance Court) to assist in obtaining this information.