#MaintenanceMatters: Everything you need to know about child maintenance
When must a parent start paying maintenance? How much maintenance money must a parent pay? What happens if a parent stops paying their maintenance order? We answer these, and more, maintenance questions.
Follow the #MaintenanceMatters series here (Getty Images)

Maintenance is an issue that binds two people long after their relationship has ended.

In an effort to provide for their children, estranged parents often find themselves battling in court for the finances necessary to feed, clothe, house and care for children they created when they were together. 

Local law is clear, and provides for the child, but in reality many fall through the cracks. 

In an effort to help parent's struggling with maintenance issues, Parent24 is speaking to legal professionals and experts to outline the law on maintenance, and provide some insight into this often contentious issue.

Follow the #MaintenanceMatters series here: 

The law

How exactly do I claim maintenance money?

An attorney explains how - exactly - a parent must go about claiming maintenance money.

Who is eligible to pay child maintenance?

Apart from the child becoming self-supporting, the duty to support shall terminate upon the child’s death, when the child gets married or is adopted.

When must a parent start paying maintenance?

The duty to maintain a child arises when the child is born and continues until such time as the child becomes self-supporting.

How much maintenance money must a parent pay?

Maintenance includes the day to day living expenses such as the provision of board and lodging, food and clothing and also medical care and schooling.

What happens if a parent stops paying their maintenance order?

The South African Courts take an extremely dim view of parents who fail to make payment of maintenance, and default in respect of maintenance orders.

When can a parent finally stop paying maintenance?

The law provides that a parent’s duty to maintain a child shall terminate when the child becomes self-supporting, is adopted or dies while they were still a dependant.


ConCourt makes significant interim maintenance ruling on divorce proceedings

The Constitutional Court has upheld the prohibition against appealing interim maintenance orders, pending divorce proceedings.

Reader questions

"I fell pregnant as the result of adultery. Now the biological father ran away. Do I have a right to take him to court for maintenance?"

What does the law say in dealing with maintenance disputes when one father doesn't know the child is not biologically his?

'Can I recoup the maintenance money my father never paid my mother?' A legal expert responds

A forty-one-year-old woman asks if she can claim maintenance money from the father who left her many years ago.

A grown son asks if he can legally be made to support his mother financially – a legal expert responds

The child’s duty to support a parent arises in circumstances where the parent is indigent and is unable to support themselves, but subject to the rule that support must be claimed from nearer relatives first. 

My child's father is threatening to leave the country and not pay maintenance: what are my legal options?

What happens when a non-custodial parent threatens to default on maintenance payments and leave the country?

Can I force my mother-in-law’s sons to support her financially? A legal expert responds

What chance do I have of forcing her two sons, who both have good jobs and upper-middle-class lifestyles to finally start contributing to her monthly support?

'The mother refuses me access to my child. What can I do to ensure that I play a rightful role in my daughter's upbringing?' An expert assists

How can the law help a parent to see their children when one parent refuses access?

How to get child maintenance from a deceased estate

Where does the law and child's rights stand in cases involving a deceased estate? 

Reader stories 

Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce

It's no secret that some parents dodge their obligations, but in the case of 'papgeld' the law protects kids first and foremost. We hear from a local dad, and a magistrate weighs in on the legalities of how maintenance money is spent.

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

"The reality is that society is quick to believe claims by those, like my ex, who love telling the story of how she was bullied out of her children, how she was kept away. And nothing could be further from the truth."

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." 

'Money should not be a commodity for visits with your children': A stepmom shares the other side of the maintenance story

"My heart breaks for these children who now are forced to face the future without the guidance of a father who so desperately wants to be part of their lives."

Chat back:

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