How to apply for maintenance by Zerita Du Preez (Attorney)

Applying for a maintenance order

Maintenance is the obligation to provide another person, for example a minor child, with housing, food, clothing, education and medical care, or with the means that are necessary for providing the person with these essentials.

An application for maintenance can be made against the respondent (person who must pay maintenance), at the Maintenance Court in the district where the complainant (person who applies for maintenance) or the child, on whose behalf maintenance is claimed, resides.

It is the responsibility of both parents to support a child. The duty to pay maintenance cannot be avoided, regardless of either parents’ situation. If one parent refuses to pay maintenance, then the other parent can go to court and institute a claim for maintenance.

The parents, guardians and/or caregivers of a child can apply for maintenance on behalf of such a child.

What should a person take to court when applying for maintenance?

  1. Identity document of the complainant.
  2. Complainant’s contact details, such as telephone numbers and home and work addresses.
  3. If maintenance for a child is claimed, the birth certificate of that child.
  4. If maintenance for the spouse is claimed, the marriage certificate or divorce order where maintenance order was granted.
  5. A full list of expenses and any proof of same, such as receipts.
  6. The complainant’s payslip and proof of any other income.
  7. The complainant’s proof of residence.
  8. As much detail as possible regarding the respondent, such as telephone numbers, home and work addresses, list of known income and expenses, and so on.

What happens after the application has been made?

  1. The maintenance officer will inform the respondent of the application and will hold an informal enquiry with the complainant and respondent being present.
  2. The respondent must take any proof of his/her income and expenses to the informal enquiry.
  3. The purpose of the informal enquiry is to assist the complainant and the respondent in reaching a settlement.
  4. If a settlement is reached, an agreement will be entered into between the complainant and the respondent, which will be made an order of court.
  5. If a settlement cannot be reached, the maintenance officer will place the matter before court for a formal enquiry to be held.
  6. The court will consider the facts and evidence of the claim and decide, by way of a maintenance order, whether maintenance should be payable and the amount of such maintenance.
  7. The complainant and the respondent must both be present at the informal and formal enquiry, and will be allowed to have legal representation.
  8. If the respondent fails to appear at the formal enquiry in court, an order may be given in his/her absence.

For any further information, please contact Zerita du Preez: zerita@nelvs.co.za or 012-807-1989.

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