Child maintenance questions have been flooding our firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox. We have compiled a short information piece to shed light on the many uncertainties surrounding this topic.
- Both parents need to contribute financially based on what each parent earns and can afford. If the father earns more and has more resources available to him, he may be ordered to pay more than the mother. Even where the mother is in a good financial position and able to take care of the child on her own, this does not exempt the father. The court can order him to pay something based on what he can afford;
- The court will consider the following before making an order: the best interests of the child is always paramount. They will also consider circumstances, the reasons provided by both parents during the maintenance hearing, both parents’ salary slips, last three months’ bank statements, slips proving previous contribution towards the child’s expenses, the needs of the child, if the child has become accustomed to a certain living standard before the parents’ split or not and furthermore ask each parent to complete an income and expenditure list;
- Sometimes the father will dispute paternity and this will delay proceedings. The court or the father may send a referring letter requesting a paternity test. A DNA test costs in the region of R2 000 and it is usually the man (he who denies paternity) who pays. If the man refuses to undergo a paternity test (one does have the constitutional right to bodily integrity), the court must warn him of the impact his refusal might have on the court’s decision. There is a presumption in our law that he who had intercourse with the mother at a time at which the child could have been conceived, is considered to be the father of the child unless there is evidence proving otherwise;
- If the father is unable to support his children, the mother can institute maintenance proceedings against his parents (the grandparents). The following must be shown in order to succeed: a) the grandparents are in a position to support the child and b) the child’s maintenance requirement;
- In some instances, parents need to contribute financially even after the child turns 18. This is where the child remains dependent (full time student or unemployed). The maintenance application must be brought in the adult child’s personal capacity. In other words, it is he/ she who needs to complete the application forms – no longer the mother or father claiming maintenance from the other parent;
- The father cannot discontinue payments due to the mother denying him visitation rights. Visitation (contact) and maintenance are two separate parental responsibilities and rights and the one does not necessarily influence the other;
- How to apply…