A single mom shares her story: 'In my experience, the parent that refuses to pay maintenance can easily get away with it forever'
"It causes great distress to be in a position where you work hard and do everything humanly possible to support your children and the defaulting party can do whatever they like." – One of our readers wrote in to share her struggle to get the father of her children to pay maintenance. "In the real world," she explains, "some people go to court for years and never get a cent."
"Some people go to court for years and never get a cent." (iStock)
Source

After reading our story, 'Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce', a single mom wrote in to share her thoughts. "What an interesting piece," she wrote, before opening up about her story. "[It] does not work like that in real life. In the real world, the custodian needs to take time off from work endlessly just to get the process started. Some people go to court for years and never get a cent." 

"In my experience, the parent that refuses to pay maintenance can easily get away with it forever. While the custodian loses time and money going through the court process..."


Also read: Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce


Read her full response below:

I am responding to the article posted about maintenance. What an interesting piece as the information supplied about the court process, does not work like that in real life.

In the real world, the custodian needs to take time off from work endlessly just to get the process started. Some people go to court for years and never get a cent. 

In my experience, the parent that refuses to pay maintenance can easily get away with it forever. While the custodian loses time and money going through the court process. 

"Simply cannot afford it on their own"

The South African system is built to protect the defaulter because there is no real recourse for those who want to “hide”. The courts do not have the time nor the resources to find a person that doesn’t want to be found and that leaves the custodian with no help. 

The truth of the matter is, a person who is very wealthy wouldn’t bother to apply for maintenance because they would be in a position to support their kids themselves. This leaves us with people who are applying because they simply cannot afford it on their own.  


Also read: New research pokes holes in the idea that men don’t look after their kids


My history 

I am divorced with two kids. I had a customary marriage which is not recognised in this country. My divorce was customary as well and they do not have a process that includes what will happen with the children after divorce. 

For the last five years since the divorce, he pays what he wants, whenever he wants. There was a time he didn’t give a cent for one and a half years. He lives in a different region. He refuses to supply me with his address and I do not know anyone who actually knows where he lives. This means I cannot apply for maintenance because he cannot be found. 

I have recently gotten a message on Messenger from a woman who asked me if I have his address because he doesn’t support the child he has with her.

"He has six children" 

As far as I’m aware, he has six children. My children are the only ones he sometimes supports. So various women have gone to court but no one is able to find him. He gets away with not supporting his children and there is really no recourse for him. 

This is indeed very sad. He is able to produce as many children as he wants, everywhere, and doesn’t have to take care of them.

In my opinion a court should force him to get a vasectomy so that he can’t be allowed to do this to anyone else. I guess I should count myself lucky that I sometimes get a contribution and he does keep in touch with my kids telephonically.


Also read: 4 reasons why some moms struggle to get child support grants in South Africa


Emotional disarray

It causes great distress to be in a position where you work hard and do everything humanly possible to support your children and the defaulting party can do whatever they like. You cry and need to hide your sadness from your children. 

My ex refuses to work for a boss so he is an entrepreneur and insists on pursuing his dreams even though it hasn’t yielded any money in more than ten years. He refuses to do something else in the meantime to pay the bills and work on his other business on the side until it is fruitful.

"I am a parent first" 

To him I would like to say: I also have dreams and I would love to be in a position to fulfill those dreams but I am a parent first. My dreams cannot be pursued at the expense of my children and making them suffer! 

He also comments on my current life and the area I live. In my opinion my area is decent and it is safe. I am surrounded by family. The school is one street away from my house and so is the daycare. Everything is convenient and my support structure are all close by.

"He hates that I live in a 'coloured area'"

He has told me explicitly that he hates the fact that I live in a “coloured area”. My daughter was diagnosed with a medical issue and he said that he refuses to accept it as she was diagnosed by someone “coloured”. All this even though we have proof and evidence to support the diagnosis. 

My response to him was, firstly, we live in a multi-racial society and there are kids and teachers of all nationalities at the school and if he wants his kids to be raised in a “white area” and go to a “white school” then I guess he needs to pay for that.

"No thanks to him" 

I am doing the very best that I can with what I have! My kids are healthy, they go to school, they have clothes and they are rather confident happy children, with no thanks to him. I am in no way ashamed of my life. 

This is but a small example of the things I need to face as a single parent. I wish there was more support and more structure in this system. I wish single parents were not left to their own devices to fend for themselves just to fulfill the basic needs of their precious children. 

Life is hard… 

Chat back

Has your version of the maintenance story been told? Share it with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Also read:

Read Parent24’s Comments Policy
NEXT ON PARENT24X
 
 
 
 
Directories

Everything from parties to pre-schools in your area.

Jobs - Find your dream job

Property - Find a new home