'My mom struggles a lot': Teen asks how he can take on maintenance responsibilities

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
What am I supposed to do as the child, 16 years old and worried about my mom's financial situation because of my dad?
What am I supposed to do as the child, 16 years old and worried about my mom's financial situation because of my dad?

We receive too many mails and messages from abandoned mothers, rejected fathers and otherwise unhappy families, asking for advice and support. In response, the team at Parent24 reaches out to local experts to offer insight and legal expertise to give parents and children the resources they need to make the most of their situations. 

But this week we heard from a teenage boy who is concerned about his mother, as she is struggling to provide for him and his siblings since their father left them years ago.

He details his upbringing, and asks if it is possible for him to take on the maintenance court and fight on his mother's behalf for what he and his siblings are owed. We asked legal executive Linda Matshoza, from LAW FOR ALL, for some help.  

This is his story:

"My dad hasn't provided for us properly since we were young, refusing to see us, and not having a job when we were small, which put my mom in huge financial trouble. He also neglected my mom since they got divorced.

But my mom, who is the main caretaker for me and my brothers, is being punished by my father - by not paying maintenance - because most of us refuse to see him as he is abusive and manipulative. 

My mom has sued him for it, and she won the case, but still only received maintenance for a certain amount of time, and she wasn't able to get almost any back maintenance from him during that time.

She signed an agreement that he has to pay, but my mom was stressed, and she gave in because everything was so difficult, and she simply doesn't have the money to afford going to court again.

Even after getting some money from him, everything was so difficult because my dad simply ignored things and wasted time just to punish her, swapping lawyers, and taking months to respond on terms from my mom and her lawyer.

The main issue is that she is always forced to pay taxes of hundreds of thousands of rands, when she doesn't have the money to begin with, and a fraction of it actually given to her after taxes. With my dad not paying the maintenance while that was happening, it was almost pointless for my mom. 

So what am I supposed to do as the child, 16 years old and worried about my mom's financial situation because of my dad?

Can I sue? Because my mom doesn't have the energy and capacity to deal with everything because of her being scarred from the abuse my dad inflicted on her when we were young.

And I do want to sue for that too but it's going to be hellishly difficult. So what do I do? My dad clearly isn't going to support our basic needs, because we refuse to see him, with him neglecting us and not paying for anything willingly.

Like therapy costs, despite me having chronic disorders coming from him, and paying towards food and things like that, which my mom struggles with a lot. 

Any guidance or support would be greatly appreciated."  

Ask us!

Do you have a legal question you need help with? Share your questions via email at chatback@parent24.com and we may speak to a legal professional on your behalf. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


Linda Matshoza responded to our query for assistance by pointing out that this one was quite difficult, because the biggest issue is that the reader is still a minor, and adding that it is clearly an issue that the clerks of the court may not be assisting properly. 

Otherwise, she says, the only time that he would be able to claim from his father directly is if he was 18 and above. 

"If he perhaps has an elder sibling who can attend to the claim at the maintenance court then that would be the way around that, "she advises.

Otherwise, he would need to try and convince his mother to approach the court again. 

"I understand the frustration in respect of not getting help from the courts, however they are obliged by their mandate and the law to assist in these instances," Matshoza tells us.

"If it is an issue with the clerks of the court not wanting to help then they can approach the court manager. The father has an obligation to pay maintenance regardless of whether or not he has access to the minor children," she explains.

Thus not having access is not an excuse for him not to pay his share. If he fails to pay in terms of a court order then they may request for his salary to be garnished and this would include the arrears which are owed.

"If there is willful maintenance default despite numerous attempts to recover the monies then the defaulting party may also be arrested. Keep in mind, he can also be blacklisted for failing to pay," Matshoza says. 


Share your stories and questions with us via email at chatback@parent24.com. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Parent24 newsletter.

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24