In the spirit of #backtoschool2017, we have compiled an ABC guide to child MAINTENANCE.

It’s important to know the basics in that child maintenance payments (or the lack thereof) acutely impact the life of a dependent/ vulnerable child.


M: MEANS test = the person you are claiming from must be able to support the dependent child and the amount being claimed must be reasonable. The income and expenditure (means) of both parents will be considered as both have a duty to support in terms of the Maintenance Act of 1998.

A: AMENDMENT. Changes to the Maintenance Act signed by President Jacob Zuma on the 20th of September 2015 mean that personal details of defaulting maintenance payers may be sent to the credit bureau (potential blacklisting).

I: INTERNATIONAL arrangements. What happens when the father/ mother does not reside in SA? South Africa has diplomatic arrangements/ channels in place with Australia, Botswana, Canada, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, etc. Click here for more information on the enforcement of international maintenance and the full list of countries.

N: NEVER give up. Follow this link for a National LIST OF MAINTENANCE COMPLAINANTS MANAGERS.

T: TAKE with you to the Magistrate’s Court = ID of the child, birth certificate, list of necessary household and other expenses every month, three months’ bank statements, ID of the person you wish to claim from as well as his/ her address.

E: ELECTRONIC communication services. If unable to trace/ provide the address of the person you wish to claim from, the Court may request these details from a network provider, provided you have his/ her mobile number. RICA can be useful!

N: NOT necessary to have an attorney present. A maintenance hearing is very informal. The Presiding Officer will listen to both parties and make a reasonable order. If you are not a Legal Hero policyholder, you may ask the Clerk of the Magistrate’s Court to assist with the relevant forms.

A: ADOPTION, blood relationship and marriage (someone married to a biological parent) could lead to a duty to support.

N: NON-COMPLIANCE/ failure to pay. Go back to the relevant Magistrate’s Court and speak to the Clerk. What could happen next is an emolument attachment order (garnishee that deducts directly from the defaulter’s salary) or a warrant of execution for the selling of the defaulter’s property.

C: CRIME. It is also a criminal offense to default on maintenance payments, punishable with jail time and/ or a fine. Click here to learn more about a Mandela family member who was arrested last week for failing to pay child maintenance.

E: EVEN grandparents of the biological parent may be ordered to pay child maintenance if their son/ daughter is unable to.


We wish all South African pupils and teachers a happy & successful 2017!