Battling a co-parent who doesn't pay maintenance? How to get through tough times as a single parent

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"Single parents dealing with co-parents who don't pay maintenance in these tough economic times." Photo: Getty Images.
"Single parents dealing with co-parents who don't pay maintenance in these tough economic times." Photo: Getty Images.

Are you a single parent having to deal with a co-parent who doesn't pay maintenance

Feeding your family on a single income in tough economic times is not an easy family situation to handle. But we have some tips to help you through.

The first step is to ensure that you apply for child maintenance at your closest Family Court.

Make sure that you have all the relevant details:

  • Both ID documents, if possible
  • Children's birth certificates 
  • Proof of income and expenses

Read: 'It all starts with a plan': top saving tips for single parents during the lockdown

What about a loss of income? 

If you already have an existing Child Maintenance order, but it's just not enough, reasonably speaking, you can apply for a variation order at Family Court. The same goes for those who are currently paying child maintenance.

If there has been a decreased income or you lost your job, be proactive and approach the court and have it declared.

Proof in the form of a letter is required for it to be filed.

The Family Court will verify and grant a new order based on its findings. But if there is not enough money at the end of the month, we need to look at downsizing our lifestyles to make ends meet.

This discussion will take place together as co-parents or involve a mediator if the level of conflict has the potential of reaching a boiling point. 

Must read: #MaintenanceMatters: Everything you need to know about child maintenance

The 'big' expenses 

We write down all the 'big' expenses – like home, car, insurance etc.

Do you need a four-bedroom home that houses only 2 to 3 people? Can you buy a smaller car for the moment that is lighter on petrol?

Insurance is essential but get professional advice from a qualified financial advisor to see if you can downscale without losing too much cover. 

Things you can do without 

Then we move on to the more minor things, like entertainment.

Make a list of the things you can do without and put it on pause for the moment. Once this part is all over, now we look at perhaps selling all your unwanted goods!

Parting with things that no longer serve a purpose is sometimes necessary. Make a list and start selling! You need to remember that everything is temporary. You will recover, and life will get back to what it was or even better if you persevere through the tough times.

You are also teaching your children adaptability and how to be resilient, important lessons that your children will need one day. So be that example for them.


Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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