#MaintenanceMatters: Everything you need to know about child maintenance

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Follow the #MaintenanceMatters series here
Follow the #MaintenanceMatters series here

Maintenance is an issue that binds two people long after their relationship has ended.

In an effort to provide for their children, estranged parents often find themselves battling in court for the finances necessary to feed, clothe, house and care for children they created when they were together. 

Local law is clear, and provides for the child, but in reality many fall through the cracks. 

In an effort to help parent's struggling with maintenance issues, Parent24 is speaking to legal professionals and experts to outline the law on maintenance, and provide some insight into this often contentious issue.

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.


Follow the #MaintenanceMatters series here: 

The law

Maintenance defaulters can be traced via their phones, and blacklisted

The court has granted permission for network providers to trace the parents responsible for paying maintenance if they're untraceable through other means.

How exactly do I claim maintenance money?

An attorney explains how - exactly - a parent must go about claiming maintenance money.

Who is eligible to pay child maintenance?

Apart from the child becoming self-supporting, the duty to support shall terminate upon the child’s death, when the child gets married or is adopted.

When must a parent start paying maintenance?

The duty to maintain a child arises when the child is born and continues until such time as the child becomes self-supporting.

How much maintenance money must a parent pay?

Maintenance includes the day to day living expenses such as the provision of board and lodging, food and clothing and also medical care and schooling.

What happens if a parent stops paying their maintenance order?

The South African Courts take an extremely dim view of parents who fail to make payment of maintenance, and default in respect of maintenance orders.

When can a parent finally stop paying maintenance?

The law provides that a parent's duty to maintain a child shall terminate when the child becomes self-supporting, is adopted or dies while they were still a dependent.

My child’s other parent is toxic: how do I legally get sole custody?

This parent wants sole custody of the child, we ask an advocate for advice on termination or separation of a parent's right and responsibility towards a minor

Does infidelity sway legal proceedings regarding parental rights? A local expert advises

Is infidelity ever used as a legal reason a child's relationship with a parent is limited, find out from a divorce and family mediator

Someone fraudulently transferred a title deed to his name, instead of my mother's. What do I do?

We answer this reader who asked  for legal advice on what she should do with regards to a title deed that was fraudulently transferred that belongs to her mother. 


ConCourt makes significant interim maintenance ruling on divorce proceedings

The Constitutional Court has upheld the prohibition against appealing interim maintenance orders, pending divorce proceedings.

Granny awarded half of R15m estate, was the 'true parent' says judge

This grandmother won the court case to benefit from the estate of a child that she looked after instead of the real father

Reader questions

Can maintenance be denied if the pregnancy was unwanted?

This reader seeks advice as to whether a child can be denied maintenance if the child was unwanted

"My ex is missing, how do I find him so he can pay his maintenance?"

This reader wants to know how he can trace the father of her child who stopped paying maintenance in March 2020 and whose number is changed, our Attorney gives her advice.

'The child is not mine. How do I claim back 16 years of maintenance?'

This reader has been supporting a child for years but only discovered now that the child he has been supporting is not his child, now he wants to know how much should he claim for the 16 years he has been paying maintenance.

Can a parent or grandparent refuse access without a court order?

This father mailed us with a custody question, we asked a family mediator for advice

'We don't want to go to court, but he is all we have of our son': A concerned granny seeks advice

This mom seeks advice about how to go about reestablishing her relationship with her grandchild without going the legal route

'My boy is with me for 2 weeks in a month, do I still have to pay maintenance?'

This dad had a question about Maintenance, so we asked the local lawyer for insights

How do I claim maintenance when the father has disappeared overseas?

This reader wrote to Parent24, concerned that her child's father had ghosted her, leaving her with the baby- and the bills.

'Can my brother's ex sue me for their child's maintenance?'

This aunt wrote to us, concerned that her niece's mother is going to come knocking for handout

'She claims she has no finances to support herself': Is it my duty to support my elderly mom?

He asks Parent24, what his responsibilities are towards her, and what he can do to get his family back to normal

"I fell pregnant as the result of adultery. Now the biological father ran away. Do I have a right to take him to court for maintenance?"

What does the law say in dealing with maintenance disputes when one father doesn't know the child is not biologically his?

'Can I recoup the maintenance money my father never paid my mother?' A legal expert responds

A forty-one-year-old woman asks if she can claim maintenance money from the father who left her many years ago.

A grown son asks if he can legally be made to support his mother financially – a legal expert responds

The child’s duty to support a parent arises in circumstances where the parent is indigent and is unable to support themselves, but subject to the rule that support must be claimed from nearer relatives first. 

My child's father is threatening to leave the country and not pay maintenance: what are my legal options?

What happens when a non-custodial parent threatens to default on maintenance payments and leave the country?

Can I force my mother-in-law’s sons to support her financially? A legal expert responds

What chance do I have of forcing her two sons, who both have good jobs and upper-middle-class lifestyles to finally start contributing to her monthly support?

'The mother refuses me access to my child. What can I do to ensure that I play a rightful role in my daughter's upbringing?' An expert assists

How can the law help a parent to see their children when one parent refuses access?

How to get child maintenance from a deceased estate

Where does the law and child's rights stand in cases involving a deceased estate? 

Reader stories 

'I was so confused about who the real father is, so I told them both! Now what?'

This women does not know who the father is, founder of Child Maintenance difficulties South Africa offers some advice

'I want to show that woman': My ex is avoiding maintenance by hiding behind his new girlfriend

This women is struggling to get his ex to pay maintenance of their child, a family mediator is asked for advise

Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce

It's no secret that some parents dodge their obligations, but in the case of 'papgeld' the law protects kids first and foremost. We hear from a local dad, and a magistrate weighs in on the legalities of how maintenance money is spent.

"He loves his daughters and will do anything for them": Maintenance is messy, but it doesn't have to be

"Divorce is ugly and people get hurt all the time. I just wish that all parents would accept the responsibility that they have to the children that they have produced and those children should come first."

A dad's maintenance story: ‘Fathers are not always the ones in the wrong’

"The reality is that society is quick to believe claims by those, like my ex, who love telling the story of how she was bullied out of her children, how she was kept away. And nothing could be further from the truth."

A single mom shares her story: 'In my experience, the parent that refuses to pay maintenance can easily get away with it forever'

"It causes great distress to be in a position where you work hard and do everything humanly possible to support your children and the defaulting party can do whatever they like." 

'Money should not be a commodity for visits with your children': A stepmom shares the other side of the maintenance story

"My heart breaks for these children who now are forced to face the future without the guidance of a father who so desperately wants to be part of their lives."

We can help

Share your maintenance-based questions and stories with us, and we could publish them. Anonymous contributions are welcome


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

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