There is a legal duty and obligation on both parents to maintain the Minor Child born of their marriage. Therefore, at the dissolution of a marriage, maintenance must be paid according to the respective income of each party.
In order to arrive at a conclusion on how much maintenance is payable by each party, the Court takes into consideration a variety of factors:
• the age of each Minor Child (i.e. under the age of 18 years);
• the state of health of the Minor Child;
• educational needs of each Child.
A party who wishes to get divorced, therefore, would be well advised to make a list of the expenses of the Minor Child.
These expenses would normally include:
schooling; aftercare fees;
clothes; domestic workers;
electricity; extramural activities;
other day-to-day expenses.
Obtaining a maintenance order before a divorce order is granted is possible by means of a ‘Rule 32 Application’ in a Central Divorce Court or a ‘Rule 43 Application’ in the High Court.
It is also possible for a divorcing spouse to launch an Application in the Maintenance Court. A biological parent can also bring a Maintenance Application against the Father or Mother of the biological Minor Child without actually being married to them.
For the purposes of divorce, working out the maintenance payable should be relatively simple:
Start at the actual costs of raising a Child then split that between both parents according to what they both earn. Calculations should be as simple as the example below:
Child costs - R2000 per month
Father earns - R6000 per month
Mother earns - R4000 per month
The father then pays 60% and mother 40% towards the monthly expenses.
Father pays - R1200 per month
Mother pays - R 800 per month
According to law, a Minor Child becomes an adult when they are 18 years old. It is a common belief that at the age of 18 years, the obligation for maintenance ends; this is not the case. The Maintenance Act itself does not comment on the duration of the responsibility to support a Child and in the circumstances, the answer is found in our common law which provides that a Parent has a duty to support the Child, until the Child becomes self-supporting. A Child cannot be self-supporting, if for example, the Child is still studying or if for example, the Child is handicapped and cannot look after itself.
However, in the above, no consideration has been given to indirect expenses – which are always applicable – and these must be included in the calculation for the expenses of the child; i.e. the bond and etc. This means that the equation becomes more intricate with differing variables that are not standard.
Hence, those people who consult with Specialist Maintenance Attorneys team usually achieve a higher maintenance result.