Know your child maintenance rights

Know your child maintenance rights

Struggling to support your child on your own? This is what you need to know about getting the other parent to pay maintenance.

Mother and daughter

Parents, whether married, divorced, separated, or just living together, have to support the basic needs of their children. These needs include food, shelter, school fees, clothing, and medical care.

Sadly, not all parents support these needs, even if they are capable of doing so. Fortunately, the law is there to ensure that the child’s maintenance rights are upheld.

What you need to apply for child maintenance
If a parent is not paying maintenance, the applicant can approach a maintenance court with the following documents: birth certificate of the child, identity document, proof of residence, proof of your monthly income and expenses, the personal details of the parent required to pay, and a copy of your bank statement.

Facts about child maintenance
- Every child has a right to maintenance. This is irrespective of whether the parents are married or have never been       married.
- The Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 says both parents have a duty to support their children.
- Parents are required to pay maintenance until a child is self-supporting.
- If a parent dies, the child may lodge a claim for maintenance against the deceased parent’s estate.
- The amount of the maintenance is determined by the courts, and is dependent on financial circumstances.
- The court can order the parent's employer to deduct the monthly amount directly from his or her salary.
- Failure by the parent to pay maintenance can result in a warrant of arrest being issued or them being blacklisted.
- The estate of the parent can also be seized and sold and the money used to pay for the maintenance.

Also read: How to deal with the death of a loved one

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