What will a court take into account when making a maintenance order?

When a court makes an order in respect of the maintenance of a child, it will take into account:
the reasonable maintenance needs of the child;
that both parents jointly have a duty to support the child;
and that the parents’ respective shares of their obligation are apportioned between them according to their means or ability.

Can I withhold maintenance payments if I am denied contact with my child? 

Your duty to pay maintenance and your right of contact with your child are two entirely separate matters, and one has no relation to the other.
You still have to pay maintenance, even if the other parent:
is involved in another relationship;
does not allow you to see the child

Until when must a parent pay maintenance for his/her child?

The duty to pay maintenance continues regardless of the child’s age, and endures until the child is self-supporting, adopted or dead. Once the child reaches the age of 18 years, the onus is on the child to prove how much maintenance he/she needs. A child that is self-supporting cannot claim maintenance from his/her parents.

Is there an obligation on grandparents to support a child?

It is accepted in our law that if neither parent can support or maintain the child, the duty passes on to the grandparents, both maternal and paternal. In circumstances where a father/mother does not pay maintenance to his/her child, the parent holding primary care of the child may lodge an application against the paternal/maternal grandparents.

Which parent must support the child?

Both parents must support their child proportionally according to their means. The duty rests on both parents.






Is there a duty on siblings to support a child?

If neither the child’s parents nor grandparents are in a position to provide support, then that duty will pass to the child’s siblings, according to their respective means. This is on the proviso that the child who claims maintenance is indeed indigent. This duty of support between siblings applies to sisters, brothers, half-sisters and half-brothers.

Can the maintenance amount be reduced?

it is possible to apply to the courts for a reduction, but this will be subject to a financial investigation to determine if the applicant really can no longer afford to pay the amount in terms of the order. The other party’s circumstances, which may have changed, will be taken into account.




What happens if maintenance is not paid?

When a party fails to comply with the terms of the order, and the order remains unsatisfied for a period of 10 days, the complainant may apply to the maintenance court where the said party resides for: authorisation to issue a warrant of execution;
an order for the attachment of emoluments (garnishee order); or an order for the attachment of debt. Remember, not paying maintenance is a criminal offence and the respondent can be fined or imprisoned for up to 1 year, or both.