Tricks and tips on how to win your child maintenance case

Tricks and tips on how to win your child maintenance case

Tricks and tips on how to win your child maintenance case

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Advocate of the High Court of South Africa Family Law Legal
Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf – Advocate of the High Court of South Africa

Child maintenance legal issues might sound simple, compare to, for example, a criminal case of fraud. However, a child maintenance case could be much more complicated, challenging and exhausting. That, however, does not have to be the case. At least not always. Find out some of the tips and tricks provided by Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf, a family law expert with more than a decade of experience in family law, and child maintenance matters. Read on to find out some tips and tricks of the trade. Valuable advice is given on what to do through the maintenance court process.

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Child Maintenance and Applications – How does it work?

The focus of this article is not to explain how child maintenance work, or how to apply for child maintenance. There are many articles written on that topic. But in short, parents must pay according to their means. So, if a child’s expense the month is R 60 (obviously this is a fictitious example) and the father earns R 500 a month and the mother R 250 a month, then if all else is equal, the father should contribute R 40 towards the minor child’s expenses, and the mother, R 20. Now that is the long and short of the matter.

However, other factors also play a role. They include the necessary expenses of each parent, which determines how much they should contribute, as well as what assets the parents own. For example, if a father earns R 100 a month, and the mother R R800 – 00, the father would pay the majority of the minor child’s expenses if he owns other assets worth R 100 000 – 00 and the mother none.

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advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceWhat are the challenges in child maintenance cases for parents?

Now we deal with the challenges. The child costs R 60 per month, but the parent who is supposed to pay maintenance, the father, in this case, is only willing to pay R 10 per month. This is what he says he can only afford and what he believes the minor child needs. He says that if he pays more, the mother would use the money for herself. But the facts as in the example above, the father earns R 500 a month and the mother, R 250. Therefore, the father should pay R 40 and not R 10 as he offers.

The challenge the mother now has is to prove that the father can afford to pay R 40 and not R 10 as he offers. The mother is worried, that should she go to the maintenance court for help, she would only get R 5 because that is what the father said he will pay should she go to court. What is our advice? Go to Court!

The Maintenance Court – What do they do?

If a parent does not pay reasonable child maintenance, the maintenance court can enforce compliance. This they would do through the Maintenance Court enquiry process. Once a maintenance order is made, it becomes a criminal offense not to adhere to it. The court may even issue a warrant attaching property, or salary.

The maintenance investigator at the Court

Each maintenance court has a maintenance investigator. What this investigator does is gather evidence in a maintenance court case. However, in practice, no one may tell you that there is a maintenance investigator who could assist you in your case. This could be because of the huge amount of maintenance cases that come through the doors of the court.

How does the maintenance court make a decision?

Now, this is where it becomes challenging. The maintenance court can only make an order against a parent if there is evidence that he or she can afford the maintenance claimed, and obviously, the amount claimed is fair. The problem in practice is, the mother alleges that the father can afford the child maintenance, but she has no concrete evidence to back it up. The father is also not forthcoming, and only shows evidence that he cannot afford the amount claimed. The mother knows that he can afford the required amount due to his standard of living and what she experienced while they lived together.

What tips are there for the mother in maintenance matters?

What follows is a list of things you can do, either yourself or through the maintenance court. However please note that the court won’t entertain your application for child maintenance should it be excessive. In other words, if you know the father cannot afford the amount claimed, or that you are intentionally claiming too much; then, in that case, you would be wasting your time. If you have a legal representative, you would be wasting money as well.

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Maintenance Court Investigator

Insist that the maintenance court instruct the maintenance investigator to investigate the financial affairs of the other parent. This you should even more so insist on if the father does not even provide the court with a copy of his salary slip and outline of expenses.

The father’s employer

Ask the maintenance court to issue a subpoena against the father’s employer for the salary advice of the father. Also, request details of the father’s pension interest the father may have.

The father’s banking account

Obtain the father’s bank statements. Here you should ask the court to subpoena various banking institutions for bank statements of the father. Bank statements hold in them valuable information about the lifestyle of a person. You may find out that the father spends half his money on his cell phone or luxury clothing. You can use this information to show the court that the father can tighten his belt and spend more money on his child. What sometimes happens is, you may find additional income coming into the father’s banking account.

Father’s Credit Profile

Have the maintenance court obtain a credit profile of the father. From the profile, valuable information can be obtained. For example, where he last applied for credit, employment and residential details. If the father says he does not have money, but he applied for credit to purchase a new car, clearly there is money.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc.)

These days, many people publish their lives on social media. If the father, in this case, keeps loading pictures and posts of how hadvice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorcee lives the good life; that information may be used to show the maintenance court that the father lives a life different than what he wants the court and you to believe.

Many people also make use of LinkedIn accounts. On it, they provide updated employment details. This would be useful to show the court should the father say he is an admin clerk. but on LinkedIn tell the world he is a manager.

Property Search in maintenance matters

What may be useful, is to do a property search on the father. Here you would find out what property that person owns. For example, the father may rent a house, but own a house in a different province where he obtains rent. That house he could have inherited.

Other tips and tricks in child maintenance matters

Each case is different. What would work in one maintenance matter, won’t work in another. For example, if someone is self-employed, and only get paid with cash, the dynamics are different. There won’t be any bank statements or payslips. In such a case, you need to be creative. Maybe ask questions to clients of the father and find out what he does and charges. If you can obtain the names of people the father does business with; that would be very useful. You may provide that information to the maintenance court and the investigator could follow up on it. If the father sees that you are getting somewhere, he may decide to pay a fair amount.

Final words in child maintenance matters

Your maintenance case is largely dependent on you proving that your child needs the requested amount. If you do not have proof, or cannot prove it, even if you show that the father can afford it, the court won’t order him to pay it. The court would only order him to pay what is fair and proved. Therefore, always ensure that you keep proof of your income and expenses up to date and ready to provide it to court.

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Have a family Law appointment with us

We have an online appointments system which enables you to save valuable time and cut straight to the chase. There is, therefore, no need for you to visit our offices (unless it is best for you to do so, or is your most preferred option).
You may set up telephonic or video consultations should you wish to do so. You can, therefore, stay in the office or on the couch in the comfort of your own home when dealing with us. We are therefore physical, online, set-up and ready to meet with you. Make your appointment online for a consultation today.

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57 thoughts on “Tricks and tips on how to win your child maintenance case

  1. Hi I need an advice my child is 13 years this year I applied for anchild maintainqnce when she was 9 years I want to know which things to mentioned in the form since because I need to increase the child maintainqnce because the child is a teenager now and I have not increase this money since I opened the case so my baby daddy he is paying R700 monthly so how much amount can I add I need your advice and also I’m unemployed I only receive the child grant and R350

  2. Hi id like to know if a complainant for maintenance don’t come to the court and the defendant come to the court, what happens or if both you are not present?

  3. I was contacted to come to polokwane for maintenance court without summons.

    Before I attended in Tembisa and the mother was not staying with the kids ,Then she moves to polokwane,but now I they want me at court without serving me with the summons.

  4. Good day I’d like to take my baby daddy to maintenence court when we had the baby he was not working at all we were both students so we had an agreement that I’ll support the baby with sassa money, the baby gets disability grant, so now he’s working it’s been months he kept quiet he keeps on promising me that he’s going to come and see that baby but he hasn’t he doesn’t even send money for food, I even forced him to send me money for his clothes even now he said that he’ll send me money but I’m still waiting for the 22nd and see if he’ll send me money

  5. Hi, i have two kids, 9 and 4( separate mothers). Both are taking turns to threathen me with maintenance court.
    Background to my problem…
    I was enrolled as a fulltime student when learning about becoming a parent again. All was well untill my last born child’s mother wanted me to drop out to work for the child.
    I respectfully declined as well as her parents proposition to get married. After this since 2016 ive verbally abused, words been thrown back and fourth. Ive stood my ground and have completed my diploma course and currently doing degree. However due to financial strain on my family and to assist financially for my kids, i have taken a casual job, paying what i can afford. My son sometimes stays at my parents house for weeks and months. And now all of a sudden i get threats that she’s going to court if my mom refuses to babysit coz i’m always working, day and night at the harbour which is not in my line of studies. For everything i say no to, she threatens me with court.

    I feel so sad and empty…everything is about money to her.

    Ive told her that once i get more I’ll pay mpre and that the temporary nob is only till march when my contract expires.

    I feel lifeless, she takes the joy out of my life will all the threats and constant nagging.

    Please help

  6. Hi there.

    So recently my baby daddy and I disagreed after he treated me so badly for the time we stayed together. I asked for some time to work through every thing. He plainly refused he then said if I go to my grandmother’s house he will block me and won’t give any money to his daughter. Mind you he has his own business and gets no less than 30k every second week. I asked him for 15k a month for he made her used to a certain lifestyle I have proof of the kind of money he gets. Is 15k excessive but he can effort it he is saying in an Apartment for 25k rent love wearing high end fashion and I have proof of his spending too. Can I ask him for 15k?

    1. Maintenance is based on the child’s reasonable needs, expenses of the parents and their income, assets and means. We cannot advise you here if R 15k is reasonable. However, if there is a dispute the court can resolve it.

  7. Hi there.

    So recently my baby daddy and I disagreed after he treated me so badly for the time we stayed together. I asked for some time to work through every thing. He plainly refused he then said if I go to my grandmother’s house he will block me and won’t give any money to his daughter. Mind you he has his own business and gets no less than 30k every second week. I asked him for 15k a month for he made her used to a certain lifestyle I have proof of the kind of money he gets. Is 15k excessive but he can effort it he is saying in an Apartment for 25k rent love wearing high end fashion and I have proof of his spending too. Can I ask him for 15k?

  8. Hi, my ex fiancé is married to another woman who has a child old than our son.My son is 10 years Nd before my ex married he used to support but since March this year he stopped all together and with no explanation given . I calls and ask to pick up our son to go visit and allow but no longer maintaining his child. Before he married he would sometimes say he lost his money or give excuse s when he is suppose to send money. As of current he is not maintaining at all but has excess to his child

  9. Hi.sipho is my name.i have 3 children out of wedlock whom i was maintaining since their birth. Now i was retrenched and divorced from my ex so with the money i received has to pay all my bills and has received a cought order for the 3kids to maintain and cant cuuse not working anymore. Need some advice

    1. Good day

      You may approach the maintenance court to apply to have the court orders reduced. If there are merit and it would be fair, the court would reduce it.

  10. Hi. I want to go to court to claim maintenance against my father,the only problem is i do ont know his work address and he doesn’t want to tell me. Can the court help me get this information. And my mother cant take a day of at work to go to the court with me ,so can another adult accompany me

    1. Good day
      The maintenance court would be able to assist in obtaining the father’s details. You need to confirm with the court if another adult can assist you if your mother is not available. We presume you under 18 years old. The best would be to call them.

  11. Hi guys… I need an advance… Last month I went to open a maintenance case… My baby daddy is not supporting the child well… All the time when we fight he stop maintaining the child.. so I decided to take him to court… So sometimes he do support then other times he does not…n we ended up separate….so after taking him to court.. n the minute he had I reported him.. then he came back to me and started acting nice towards me… Buying things for the kid…. Our court date is September next Month….so I wanna know if this will affect my case in such a way where I’ll end up losing.. coz now it Seems like he’s willing to maintain after finding out that I reported him

    1. Good day
      Not it should not negatively affect your case. You must proceed. At the end of the day, you need a maintenance order which the father must adhere to.

  12. Good afternoon,
    I was paying maintenance and buying clothes for my son as per the court order, up until i was approached by his mother complaining to me that every month end her son fight for this money, he want to use it, and he was 13 years by then, and he was not permanently staying with his mother. There is nothing i can proof that the mother was the one who asked me to stop this maintenance payments, it was a verbal communication. Now the child is 16 years old, and still the mother does not stay with him permanently. She stays somewhere with his boyfriend.
    I am now being summoned to appear in maintenance court on the 14/08/2020. I will definitely go there, but i need advise on how to say this to the maintenance officer, and also could you advise if my wife is involved in this matter since i am now married and most of the monthly expenses are been taken care by her. Will they need her details as well, eg bank statements, etc. Aslo, can the court assist me with the DNA tests? Please kindly advise.

    1. Good day
      Explain to the court the maintenance arrangement you had. The court would decide on how to go forward. Regarding your wife, if she is paying for certain items, outline it on paper. They may want to ask her questions to verify for financial involvement. And yes, you may ask for a paternity test.

  13. Hi, if the mother uses money for her own personal expenses can I stop paying the money to the mother and buy food to be delivered to the child ? Is it right not to give the mother any cent but still support the child myself by paying the schools fees directly to the school, buying clothes for the child myself ?

    1. The courts usually order that the maintenance gets paid to the mother. She would know what the child needs at a specific time. If there is a court order, then you need to follow it. If there is no court order, then you and the mother needs to work out the issues and you need to support your child reasonably. Things like school fees that can be paid to the service provider can be paid directly unless there is a court order stating otherwise.

  14. Good day.

    I am a dad of 2year girl turning 3 in December. My wife decide to divorce me 2 weeks ago she move out of the house.
    She wants me to see my child only once a week and every 2 weekend. I am very involve with my child my hours very flexible. most of the things she knows today i teach her my wife work long hours 8 am till 5 pm only get back home about 6pm.

    We both are very good parents but my wife dont spend so much time with her child like i do.

    My Question is what my rites can i get more days of my child as dad ? Even tho my wife refuse to work something out.
    What legal acction can i take to see my child more then once a week if a dad can fight for it

  15. Hi . My question is if the father of my child left us to live with a married woman and I’m unemployed we don’t have a home I’m living with friends n family. I handed him maintenance papers yesterday. So if he goes to court and tells the court he has new bills to pay since he left me and he can’t afford to pay much towards my child and I. Alimony! When we were living together he didn’t have many accounts .He only had one account. What do I do in a case like this? It’s not fair . He left us to start a new life with this woman . Takes a loan and gets a new place and buys furniture but can’t give money for his therefore I’m taking him to maintenance court.plz I need advise on what to say at court for my bby and I to get a decent maintenance from him.

    1. Good day
      The court has a legal obligation to ensure that you obtain fair and reasonable maintenance. They would have to look at all the facts of the matter. We advise that you ensure that you keep proof of all your and the child’s expenses and present it to court. As to the father’s new life, he would have to explain it, and the court would have to decide if he was being fare etc. In the end, the court would decide what is best for the child.

  16. I have a problem whereby my baby daddy was instructed to buy our son clothes for winter and December but before he does that I always have to go to court, can’t they make some sort of arrangement with his employer that he’s obligated into delivering?

  17. Hi, I’m enquire got on behalf of a close family. He is the father of the child. Due to the fact that when he impregnated his girlfriend, the girl’s parents were trying to make them get married and he didn’t want. So they opened a child maintenance court case, on the day he went and the grandmother is the one who showed up and the girl(mother of the child) did not so the court didn’t take any action. Throughout the years he has tried to pay the damages but they refused. Now the child is 6 years old and he wants to take the court route, how should he go about it. The mother’s child has since been married and has a child with her new husband.

    The grandparents(parents to the mother of the child) seem to be taking it personal because they wanted the two( my close family and their daughter) to be married and have refused for him to see the child ever since. How should we go about this situation because the child is growing up

  18. I’m a father and pay maintenance fee which I believe is not fair for me as I have other children and pay more on the 1 I pay maintenance on than the others. Which steps to take for it to be reduced.

  19. Hi I have twin boys turning 5.their father is maintaining them he has 2 other kids tha makes them 4,he pays 2000 for the twin I dont know about the others am unemployed I find far job opportunities my mom works far from home I have no one to leave them with and I cant afford a nanny.he is HR senior at premiers office .it is not enough but it is something.the only problem is he sometimes tells he is having strains and sends R1500 and this does not meet all the twins needs what can I do ?

    1. Good day
      We advise you to approach the Maintenance Court for an enquiry into the matter. The court would decide if based on all the fact what he is paying is enough.

  20. Hi I would like to know, if the mother isnt working and the father has been supporting child from birth with a fixed amount which court have him but now she’s threatening the father with the court for more than what his giving, she is in a relationship and says her boyfriend supports more than what the dads supports.. Can she go to court to get extra while she hasn’t worked for years

    1. Good day

      She has a right to go court. However, the court would decide on what is fair. The father would have to outline his income and expenses and the mother the same for her and the child. She must also explain why she is not working. At the end of the day, the court would decide what is fair and best for the child.

  21. I am a varsity student and so is my son’s father. I recently got a nanny to look after my child while I study . He gives me R1400 per month but sometimes he makes excuses that he doesn’t have the money .R800 goes to the nanny and R600 for child support,I tell him that it’s not enough but he just doesn’t care …what should I do

  22. I had a woman who was Pregnant and she was not sure until the baby was born and she told me is my baby but on the Child birth certificate,she gave the baby her family name and on the mothers side she filled her name but on fathers side she never fill anyone,and she demand child support,but i told him to go and fix child burth certificate on thr fathers side bcoz i cant support a child who i real dont have any prove if is my child although i cant afford to do DNA as is too expensive.what will happen to me as a father who im ready to suppport my child if the birth certificate will prove me as a father??what will happen if my baby mother send me to court with empty father details birth certificates?

  23. Kindly advise husband has two kids from another lady ..the kids are currently living with us and hasn’t seen her for over 3 weeks ..she has sent a maintenance order against my husband even though he takes care of the children. Please advise on dealing with this situation. What evidence can be taken to court to prove kids are with us

    1. If there is a dispute at court as to where the child lives, then he can have a social worker provide a short report after visiting the homes.

  24. Good day

    iam in bit of a stressful situation I was traditionally married to the father of my son in December 2018 and moved in stayed together even before then we recently had a fight now in November 2019 and we I moved back home and he also moved out to stay at his desired place he hasn’t given me any money for child support or let alone buy the Childs needs he has him on medical aid and is currently paying R600 for that and I have to pay the nanny and buy the Childs things and now I couldn’t take him to day care because he said he wont maintain the child and that he needed his things back from where we were staying previously I did not stop him from getting his things and now he hasn’t done anything for the child ever since. please advise on how to deal with this

  25. I am looking for someone to draw up an agreement on maintenance with the father. He earns nearly double my earnings but expects me to pay half of everything. I am a Preschool teachers simply cannot afford that on my salary.
    I live in Durban. Please may you forward me a person to contact

  26. Can I still ask for child maintenance if we once agreed on doing an abortion then I informed him of the change of mind regarding keeping the baby

  27. Father of my child doesn’t wanna do anything. The child was staying with his family for 6 months and I went and fetch her but she didn’t have food nor pampers nor medication nor proper clothes. I told him to buy atleast clothes and food a child he said he doesn’t see a need to do that. Do I was wondering if I can get help with child support maintenance procedures.

    1. Good day. A parent must make an application for a maintenance order at a Magistrate’s Court. Make sure to include all the relevant documentation in your application.

  28. Don’t seem to find anything that protects an unmarried father from being exploited? Mother hardly ever worked in 7 years, married wealthy and can afford a rich lifestyle in USA and now demands more and more maintenance – also threatens contact with his child if he doesn’t pay. Father has more than generously contributed to maintenance since the child’s birth. Now they are in USA, father offered R4000 a month, and R2000 a month to savings for one flight a year to see his child. She has now gone legal to dispute maintenance.

  29. My son is 23 yrs, not employed, have 3 children, drop out of college. I still pay maintenance, why. How can I stop it.

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