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Child maintenance - Parents & Grandparents

The duty to maintain a child arises when the child is born. In order to claim for maintenance, you must first determine the reasonable needs of the child on a monthly basis.

There is no age that automatically stops the duty to support the child. The duty to support shall terminate upon the child’s death, when the child gets married or is adopted or becoming self-supporting.

This mean if the above does not happen you might find yourself paying child maintenance to a 35 year old child.

Maintenance includes the day to day living expenses such as accommodation, food and clothing and also medical care and schooling.

In the event of the parent's death, a claim for maintenance may be lodge against the deceased parent's estate. Where a deceased parent’s estate is inadequate to cover the child’s support, or if there is no estate leftover to meet the maintenance requirements of the child, the duty to support will be expanded to the child’s maternal and paternal grandparents jointly (uGogo noMkhulu).

Maintenance cannot be measured in monetary terms alone. Usually, the parent who cares for the child on a daily basis indirectly contributes towards maintenance because of the time they spend together. Notwithstanding this, both parents still have a financial obligation to pay maintenance in accordance with their means, income and expenditures.

Maintenance may need to be adjusted regularly, depending on the changing needs of the child or the financial position of the parents.

Remember, not paying maintenance after a court order is a criminal offence and one can be fined or go to jail for up to 1 year, or both. The maintenance officer may also have you blacklisted as well.

A garnishee order can be issued where an order made by the maintenance court remains unsatisfied for a period of 10 days or when the court suspends a warrant of execution.