In South Africa, child maintenance laws are clear. The person found guilty of not complying with the maintenance order could face up to one year in prison, according to divorcelaws.co.za.
Here are ten points to consider when it comes to maintenance:
• Both parents have a joint duty to care for the child
• Maintenance is ordered according to the reasonable needs of the child
• It is divided between both parents according to their mean/ability
• It is expected to include: provisions for clothing, housing, dental and medical care, education and training, and, where applicable, recreation
• The duty to pay remains in place until the child is self-supporting, adopted or dead
• If over the age of 18, the child must provide proof that support is still needed, i.e., not self-supporting
• If the parents are unable to pay maintenance paternal and maternal grandparents and even older siblings may be given the duty of providing maintenance
• If one parent is unemployed, that person must provide proof that they’re seeking work and may also apply for a child support grant
• If the maintenance order is disputed, an appeal can be made in certain circumstances
• Maintenance and the right to contact children are two separate issues.
What happens if you don't pay
While some parents are able to resolve amicably the issue of maintenance, others encounter life-changing problems that may involve incurring massive debts, being blacklisted or even involving the law.
Some issues that crop up are when one party withholds maintenance to control the other, or one threatens the other party with leaving the country with the children. Some refuse to pay if their ex has remarried or has since had other children.
Even if your partner has a new partner, it is still your duty to pay maintenance, and you may not, by law, refuse access to your child’s parent.
Have you encountered any problems with maintenance? If you’d prefer to remain anonymous, you can send them to email@example.com and we’ll share them without publishing your name.