The studio talk took place on the Business Class show and the presenter Lihle Mthethwa interviewed the paralegal in studio
A child is entitled to reasonable maintenance to provide for clothing, housing, dental and medical care, education and training, and, where applicable – recreation. Both parents have a duty to maintain the child according to their respective means. The duty exists irrespective of whether the child is adopted, born in or out of wedlock, or born of the first or a subsequent marriage. What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the family’s standard of living, their income and the cost of living. The standard of living usually determines whether expenses for recreation and secondary- and tertiary-level education will be awarded.
There are three conditions involved in the claiming of support:
1. the duty to support must be established;
2. the people on whose behalf the support is being claimed are unable to maintain themselves;
3. the person from whom maintenance is claimed is able to afford the maintenance that is claimed.
Both Parties must provide proof of appropriate expenditure so that the Court will be able to grant a fair Maintenance Order. When the respondent 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 respondent is resident for:
• authorisation to issue a warrant of execution;
• an order for the attachment of payments; 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. The maintenance officer may also have the respondent blacklisted. To escape punishment, the respondent must show to the satisfaction of the court that he/she could not pay maintenance due to a lack of money or income.
Duty to pay maintenance and right of contact to child are two entirely separate matters, and one has no relation to the other
• During a marriage, each spouse owes to the other a reciprocal duty of support, provided that the person claiming such support is actually in need of it and that the other spouse can actually provide it.
• This support includes accommodation, clothing, food, medical services and other necessities, and is balanced by the couple’s social status, their means of income and the cost of living.
• The duty to support each other is the responsibility of both spouses and means that if for example, a woman does not have the financial means to support herself, her husband has a legal obligation to support her, and vice versa.
• This reciprocal duty of support comes to an end on termination of the marriage, whether by death or divorce.
• Neither spouse has a statutory right to maintenance.
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