Guest Column

Does maintenance really have to be a grudge purchase?

2015-06-24 17:11

Mthunzi Mbatha

Papgeld – one word that gets a deadbeat dad heading for the hills or rogue baby mama saying “I did the hard part”. Don’t quote me on that one.

The National Assembly yesterday passed a new law that will see parents who default on child maintenance blacklisted and blocked from getting credit while owing maintenance.

Common sense – which is a rare commodity these days – tells us that if you do grown-up deeds like making babies, you do the grown-up thing to support them ... But some parents shed their responsibilities faster than Eskom sheds its load.

As evidenced in the debate leading up to the passing of the Maintenance Amendment Bill, South Africans had a lot to say for and against the new law.

Proponents of the Bill generally say it’s about time “absent parents” faced consequences for not doing the right thing.

But those against this law say blacklisting defaulters disadvantages both parent and child because it doesn’t necessarily benefit the complainant in any way; it only serves to sour an already unpleasant relationship.

Some suggest that deducting maintenance from the parents’ earnings would ensure that children get the support they need but others say the new law gives parents ammunition to settle scores with estranged partners.

And of course there’s the banter about mothers using maintenance to pay for the “high life” and “low life” fathers boozing it up while their kids go hungry. When all is said and done, one question remains: Does maintenance really need to be a grudge purchase? 

Read more on:    child maintenance
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