'Nothing's been done': Mom shares awful experience with missing ex and inept maintenance courts

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"My kids will get thrown out of university due to non-payment; however, the court doesn't care".
"My kids will get thrown out of university due to non-payment; however, the court doesn't care".

"I'm at my wit's end," says a local mom about her current financial troubles. 

The mom has written to News24 for advice on what to do about her ex-husband, who became a maintenance defaulter after moving to Dubai. 

The former pilot and current university lecturer stopped paying court-ordered maintenance in 2021, the mom says, which has left her family in dire straits. 

She says that attempts to gain support from maintenance courts has turned a desperate situation into a nightmare. 

Also read: 'He lives in the UK': How do I claim maintenance when the father has disappeared overseas? 

Sharing her story, she writes: 

I am a single mother of 2 children in university, two girls, 22 and 19 years of age. Their dad was a pilot, but Covid-19 happened, and he was retrenched. 

He received a huge pension payout but managed to secure a position as a professor at a university in Dubai. However, he insists he is unemployed, which is a lie. 

He is supposed to pay for our two children's maintenance, university fees, textbooks and medical aid for the kids till self-supporting as per the divorce decree. At the end of 2021 to date, all maintenance stopped, and my kid's university fees are in arrears. 

I approached the court in Johannesburg and was told my case was pending. I was told South Africa has no alliance with Dubai. After over a hundred emails of pleading, begging, and losing my mind, I was told I needed to open up a civil case.

I waited so long for nothing! The people of the court play games with people's lives, and worst, play games with defenceless children. 

I had to start the process all over again. 

'I have since opened up a civil matter'

I'm suffering daily to make ends meet. My kids will get thrown out of university due to non-payment; however, the court doesn't care. Eight months and nothing has been done to assist us.

I have since opened up a civil matter. In June 2022, I asked about the required documents I would need and went in the freezing cold to the court with the necessary papers as instructed. When I got there, I was told I needed to bring bank statements which were never mentioned.

After emailing a prosecutor, I still got no help. They are still tracing his bank statements for more than eight months. I had to do all the work and submit a thousand documents, yet nothing was done. 


'Turned away from the court'

I've had to take off from work and borrow petrol money. It's painful yet easy for people of the court to say to you come to court and give in another two million papers. 

It's sad how women are begging and crying, turned away from the court, rude magistrates, and rude maintenance officers. The people of the court are sickening.

Imagine we as women take about ten visits to court; however, the man would come with no paperwork, and the case is dismissed. 

I then emailed all the heads of departments right through to the regional head, and to date, nothing has happened. I'm desperate for help. Please, I'm begging the court to help me for the sake of my children. Can his parents come to court to assist if he can't be traced? I don't know what to do. 

Also see: My father hasn't paid maintenance in almost 10 years' - Teen opens up about financial abuse 

Locating the missing ex 

"Just like any other matter where one of the parties cannot be found, a tracing agent or private investigator can be appointed to try and locate the missing ex," advises attorney Simon Dippenaar of Simon Dippenaar & Associates

According to Diepenaar, once the defaulter is found, a written order can be issued against his movable property or bank statement, and the mom can claim the outstanding maintenance. 

In terms of claiming maintenance from her ex-husband's parents,  Dippenaar says this would be possible "if all other routes have been exhausted". 

"The person claiming, the mother, for example, has to prove that neither one of the parents can support the child or that they cannot be located to claim maintenance".  

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