"He loves his daughters and will do anything for them": Maintenance is messy, but it doesn't have to be
"Divorce is ugly and people get hurt all the time. I just wish that all parents would accept the responsibility that they have to the children that they have produced and those children should come first." A reader shares both her own and her husband's experience with paying maintenance.
"I just wish that all parents would accept the responsibility that they have to the children that they have produced and those children should come first." (iStock)
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If there's anything to take away from the flood of responses we've received since publishing Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce, it's that maintenance can be a messy affair. 

A reader wrote in to share her own tough experience of life after divorce, as well as her current husband's. 

Here are their stories: 


Also see: A dad's maintenance story: ‘Fathers are not always the ones in the wrong’

Share your maintenance story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.


"He was one of those super fathers who paid and paid and paid and his ex-wife took advantage to support her lifestyle"

My hubby and I facilitate a divorce support group on a regular basis and you will not believe some of the stories that we have heard!

We have both been divorced before.  

He was one of those super fathers who paid and paid and paid and his ex-wife took advantage to support her lifestyle. He paid substantial maintenance, all school-related and medical-related costs, pocket money etc. She lived with his ex-business partner in a house on 'Millionaire’s Row' while his business collapsed.

He was R200k in debt and driving his mother’s old rust bucket of a car without even bronze coins in his wallet to put in fuel.  But she was relentless. He found a job after losing everything, and then, if he didn’t give her 20% increases every year, she threatened to take the daughters out of the good school they were in and put them in another one as she 'couldn’t afford the daughters’ costs she was covering from her income'.  

If they needed to go to a study session or extramural activity (for which he paid every cent – from their ballet uniforms and fees to hockey sticks and shoes etc.), she charged him a rate per km for her petrol costs to get them there and back, or she simply refused to take them! 

He was paying more than 45% of his take-home salary to her on costs related to his children before he paid a cent of his own rent, petrol, living costs etc. But he loves his daughters and will do anything for them. Now they are adults and the relationship they have with their father is amazing!


Also see: "Men in South Africa get no real support": A dad's story about his life as a single parent, fighting for his kids


"I had to withdraw the bond payment towards the end of the month to make ends meet"

I had an ex who cheated me out of over R1m in the divorce (long story), paid minimal maintenance from day 1 (at least he paid!) but I never saw an increase from him in the 10 years that they were dependent on me after the divorce. When my son matriculated and went to live with his father while he studied, I paid him maintenance. 

I qualified 6 years after the divorce after paying for my own studies and doing my traineeship with a minimal salary. I paid my bond every month and had to withdraw the bond payment towards the end of the month to make ends meet.  

My children would come home from school with school shoes falling apart, and I would glue the soles back on and peg them, and they would wear them to school the next day. All this while their father was spending the money he should have paid me in the divorce settlement on hare-brained business schemes. 

He even borrowed money from me at one stage to pay the VAT in his business – money I borrowed on a revolving credit facility I couldn’t afford to pay – and he took his time paying me back.

Divorce is ugly and people get hurt all the time.  I just wish that all parents would accept the responsibility that they have to the children that they have produced and those children should come first (before new spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends) and before their fun times while they let it all hang out celebrating that they 'got rid of him/her'. 

Leave the children out of your fights with each other.  It is unfair to burden them with things that children shouldn’t have to deal with.  And it is unfair to punish your ex-spouse by withholding maintenance which is due to them to keep your children fed, clothed and schooled. 

If you are adult enough to have made those children, be adult enough to take responsibility for them.

Chat back:

Share your maintenance story with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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