'He wanted me to terminate': Can maintenance be denied if the pregnancy was unwanted?

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Photo by Hollie Santos on Unsplash
Photo by Hollie Santos on Unsplash

In an ideal world, every baby is planned and there are two parents to care for and raise the child until he or she is ready to fly the nest.  

In the real world, relationships are complicated and sometimes babies come to be without planning. This is not always a bad thing, and a surprise pregnancy has made many a couple very happy. 

But what about when one of the parents isn't on board?

"Can the baby daddy refuse to maintain the child on the basis that he wanted me to terminate the pregnancy, but I decided to keep the baby?" 

A reader messaged us this sad question recently, prompting Parent24 to reach out to a lawyer to find out what should happen next.

Shando Theron, attorney at Theron Inc, tells us that the short answer is "No". 

"Our current legal position is that the duty to support arises from the moment the child is born or adopted and continues until the child is self-sufficient, adopted or dead," he explains. 

Also read: #NoOneWins | Everything you need to know about Parental Alienation 

Overiding concern

A child’s best interests are the overriding concern in all matters affecting the child.

"This is the sentiment echoed by the Family Advocate in the directions issued on 8 May 2020," Theron says.

In terms of Section 15(1) of the Maintenance Act, both parents have a legal duty to support their children irrespective of whether the child is born in or out of wedlock, or is born from a previous marriage or of an extramarital affair, or adoption.  

Primary care

In a case like the above it can be assumed then that the mother will be the primary carer for the chil and, per SA law, the parent who does not have primary care is ordinarily required to pay a cash contribution for maintenance

This parent will also be expected to provide his or her proportionate share as indicated in Section 15(2) of the Maintenance Act.

Financial means are established by assessing the income and expenses and where certain expenses are not necessary, Theron explains.

To find out more about maintenance, browse here: 

#MaintenanceMatters: Everything you need to know about child maintenance

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