Top tips and tricks from a Senior Family Law Advocate on claiming maintenance for a five-year-old child in Virginia.
Child Maintenance is the right of the child, and not that of the parent. It is also not a privilege granted to parents who must pay it. It is their duty to pay child maintenance and support their children. Once the child is self-supporting (being able to care for him or herself), the obligation falls away. This can happen when the child is 18, 20, or even 30. It all depends on the circumstances of the case.
Claiming child maintenance for your child in Virginia
Whether you claim child maintenance in Virginia, or any other city in South Africa, the procedures would be the same. There are however two (2) courts that can deal with child maintenance matters. That is a divorce court, in a divorce matter, and a Child Maintenance Court. For this article, we will focus on claiming maintenance in a Maintenance Court matter in Virginia.
The maintenance scenario – Virginia South Africa
In this article, we will deal with the following fictitious scenario, in a child maintenance matter:
- The Child is seven years old and attends school in Virginia
- The child is cared for by the mother who works in Virginia
- The mother works and earns a Salary of R 10 000
- The father sees the child every second weekend. He also lives and works in Virginia
- The child’s monthly expenses are R 6000 – 00 which includes food, clothing, accommodation, education, travel etc.
- The father earns a reasonable salary and can afford the R 20 000 – 00 per month
- The mother claims R 4 000 – 00 maintenance as the father earns double her salary
What is the first step the mother must take in claiming child maintenance?
The first thing the mother must do is work out exactly what the child costs by item. She breaks down the minor child’s living expenses, starting from rent or accommodation to groceries to school fees etc. Once she has done that, she would need to determine what exactly does the minor child cost per month, seeing that she will be asking the father to contribute towards that. As best as possible, she needs to collect proof of expenses. This can be in the form of receipts.
How does she start the legal process?
The mother now needs to approach the maintenance court in the area where she lives or works to lodge a complaint for child maintenance. If she lives or works in Virginia, it would be the maintenance court in Virginia. She will complete a Form A wherein she will provide all the expenses for her and the minor child. She would also have to stipulate her income. Once she completed the form and submitted it to the maintenance court, she must then follow the next step.
What do you do while waiting for the maintenance court date?
While you wait to be informed of the court date by the Maintenance Court of Virginia, and up until the actual first court date, you need to ensure that you keep a record of all income and expenses for you and the child. This is very important as the court allocates maintenance based on recent income and expenses.
What happens at the first court appearance at the Virginia Maintenance Court?
Once you have been notified of the maintenance court date by the Virginia Maintenance Court, you need to ensure that you attend it. On that day, both you and the father of the child would appear before a maintenance officer. The maintenance officer would go through both your income and expenses as well as that of the father. If all the relevant information is not before the maintenance court, then the matter may be postponed in order for the parties to submit it.
The maintenance officer will try to settle the matter and have the parents come to an agreement regarding the amount of child maintenance to be paid. If they cannot come to an agreement regarding the child maintenance to be paid, the matter would have to proceed to a formal hearing or trial before a Magistrate.
How does the Maintenance Court hearing or trial work in Virginia?
Essentially, the maintenance court is called upon to make a fair ruling regarding what is a fair amount of child support that needs to be paid. For that to happen, the parents would have to give evidence in that regard. The mother would present to the court what the child costs, what she contributes and what she requires the other parent to pay. The Father would have a right to question the mother and to present evidence as to why he cannot afford the amount requested or why he feels it is an unfair amount. The mother can they also question him.
At the end of the day, the Virginia Maintenance Court would be able to properly determine what is a fair and adequate amount of child maintenance to pay after being presented will all relevant information. The Virginia Maintenance Court should play an active role in determining what is a fair amount of child maintenance the father should pay.
The above child maintenance application principles should apply to the following provinces and cities:
Alice, Butterworth, East London, Graaff-Reinet, Grahamstown, King William’s Town, Mthatha
Port Elizabeth, Queenstown, Uitenhage, Zwelitsha
Bethlehem. Bloemfontein, Jagersfontein, Kroonstad, Odendaalsrus, Parys, Phuthaditjhaba, Sasolburg, Virginia, Welkom
Benoni, Boksburg, Brakpan, Carletonville, Germiston, Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Pretoria, Randburg, Randfontein, Roodepoort, Soweto, Springs, Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging
Durban, Empangeni, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg, Pinetown, Ulundi, Umlazi
Giyani, Lebowakgomo, Musina, Phalaborwa, Polokwane, Seshego, Sibasa, Thabazimbi
Emalahleni, Nelspruit, Secunda, North West, Klerksdorp, Mahikeng, Mmabatho, Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Northern Cape, Kimberley, Kuruman, Port Nolloth
Bellville, Virginia, Constantia, George, Hopefield, Oudtshoorn, Paarl, Simon’s Town, Stellenbosch, Swellendam, Worcester