"How much maintenance is enough?"
This is a question we see at Parent24 all the time. The short answer is that each case is different, and the court will decide, based on each parent's income and expenses, if the parents can't come to an agreement.
But this father has a question about his financial responsibilities on the weekends when he has his child with him.
"I am a father who is paying R1500 for child support, but whenever it's my weekend to take my child, the mother doesn't pack her anything.
And I have to still buy food for her, which is too much for me to afford. I would like to get advice."
Felicity An Guest, a maintenance activist and founder of Child Maintenances Difficulties in South Africa, helps us with some advice for this father.
"I would advise the father to have his own wardrobe for the child if they have a fixed co-parenting agreement and regular access, which he could keep at his house," she suggests.
Guest explains that food is his responsibility when the child is with him, and he would have to prioritise the child needs over other expenses he might have.
"If he has an affordability issue, he can approach the maintenance courts for a variation, a reduction, of the original maintenance agreement if they have one," she adds.
If they do not have one, he can approach the courts for a court-ordered maintenance agreement. She says a full enquiry is conducted to establish affordability and pro-rata contributions according to their respective means.
In January 2021 the Household Affordability Index reflected increases of basic food items of between 31% and 68%, increasing the basic food basket price of 43 basic items to R4051.20.
This excludes shelter, clothing, education and health care.
Guest says that while this father's contribution of R1 500 might have been awarded on affordability, one does not know the mother's income.
"But if we were to assume the expenses were split 50/50, which is often the case, it would still be below the basic food basket price excluding all the other needs," she clarifies.
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