How much child maintenance can single parents claim?

Many single parents are confronted with the reality of having to fight for child maintenance. Here's how child maintenance is calculated.

It’s sad but true: South Africa is home to millions of single parents who battle every month to keep up with the costs of raising their children alone. Our country also has millions of child grant beneficiaries, some of which have parents that could afford to pay child maintenance, but choose not to. In that respect, it is important for parents to know what their rights are when it comes to the claiming and payment of child maintenance. Unfortunately, a lot of single parents do not know what their rights are.

The obligation to provide

According to Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, child maintenance is “the obligation to provide another person, for example, a minor, with housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care, or with the means that are necessary for providing the person with these essentials”.

Which necessities can you claim for?

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Proper education

3 Steps to claiming child maintenance

Step 1: Go to the relevant magistrate court and complete and submit Form A: Application for a maintenance order (J101).

Step 2: Submit proof of your monthly income and expenses, such as receipts for food purchases, electricity and/or rent bill payments.

Step 3: A court date will be set for you and your partner to appear in court, and a judge will also issue a court order with an amount to be paid by the other parent.

How is child maintenance calculated?

According to South African law firm Anthony-Gordon Incorporated,:

  • Your application form will have a column to fill in your income, assets, and expenditure.
  • Your expenditures will be subdivided between yourself, your children, and the household.
  • Your household expenditures will then be split between you and the number of children you have.

For instance, if you have one child to maintain, and your home rental amount is R10 000, you and your child will be liable for R5 000 respectively.

  • Other expenses will include school fees, food, clothing, medical care, etc.
  • On the form, you can then insert the amount you wish to claim, based on the total monthly expenditure of your children.

There is, therefore, no set amount for child maintenance. It all depends on the expenses of the child, and the affordability of the parent being required to contribute. He/she then has a choice to:

  • Pay the amount as per the court order after a settlement has been reached
  • Contest the amount in court where the magistrate will hear arguments from both parties.

If the partner agrees to the amount “the court will also determine when and how maintenance payments must be made” according to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Therefore, not all cases appear in court.

How is the amount paid?

  • Directly to the person that filed the claim
  • Magistrate office account

The ordered amount can also be garnished, meaning deducted directly from the salary of the person liable to pay it. This is in accordance with the new Maintenance Act, 1998.

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