Mary's Story - Maintenance Stories

Mary Maintenance Story

When my husband George left me last year I went through the most terrible time in my life. I didn’t know how I would get through the next day – never mind the next year. First he just walked out and left me and our son. We were devastated. Then the bills starting rolling in and I discovered that he’d left me to pay everything, and put us seriously in arrears with all the accounts.

The phone got cut off. Then the DSTV service was stopped. Next my credit card was guillotined. This was swiftly followed by my accounts being closed. The last straw was when I had to get a pay as you go cell phone because my usual number was barred. I spent the evenings trying to put on a brave face for our son and the nights crying myself to sleep in fear.


I phoned George from work and begged for maintenance. He laughed and said that he had better things on which to spend his money. He was referring to the new receptionist at his work. From the day she’d started work there, she’d also gone to work on my George. He followed her around like a little dog and everything I’d ever wanted him to buy for me – he bought for her. He was earning a fortune and she was spending it for him. They were a match made in Heaven – a gold digger and a big spender.

We became divorced – George instructed Attorneys because he wanted to marry again. Eventually, after some negotiation, a reasonable maintenance was worked out and set down in the Court Order. George failed to pay. He paid a few hundred rands here and there but it made no difference to our living standards and didn’t even buy our son more than a new pair of shoes and a few school books.

A friend of mine who worked at a firm of Conveyancing Attorneys asked them about my situation. But they didn’t know anything about that area of the Law. She said as she understood things, nobody could make him pay if he didn’t want to. I knew I should see Specialist Attorneys but I was so deep in debt that Attorneys were not an option.

Devastated, I took a second job in the evenings. Financially it helped a little but my relationship with my son took a knock. He began to suffer at school because I could no longer help him with his homework or give him the support and encouragement he needed. The extra money meant I could pay the rent, a bit of the debt, and put buy some healthy food; I was stuck. Our son felt self conscious, conspicuous and under privileged. He became a recluse, stopped mixing with other school kids, and even talked of dropping out of school.

Without realising, I’d sort of dropped out of sight. I’d always been a family person, but had lost contact with them. I just kept running out of time and energy; stopped looking after myself and became a drudge. No wonder my son’s self confidence had left him – he was following my lead.

My brother called me at work but I put on a brave front and told him all was well. He suspected I was lying and asked around. He made an appointment for me with Specialist Maintenance Attorneys at Martin Vermaak Attorneys – said he would pay. He even drove me there and made sure that I took the Court documents and evidence of what George had paid and so on.

The Maintenance Attorneys were really kind and understanding. I thought they’d laugh at me but they listened instead. They were very re-assuring and I wish I’d gone to see them sooner. I warned them they wouldn’t be able to do much with George but they just smiled and told me not to worry.

I’m not sure what the turning point was for George. He probably got quite a fright when he realised some of the legal consequences of not paying maintenance.

It’s sad that George wasn’t concerned about giving our son a normal childhood: and he only paid when he thought he might lose face and money – and his girlfriend.

The main thing is that George pays the correct maintenance and never misses. Our son gets new school uniforms when he needs them and all the other things a boy needs during his childhood. He’s been doing really well at school since I quit my second job to spend more time with him. His confidence has returned and he’s back with his school chums.

I just wish I’d got to the Maintenance Attorneys sooner – I could have avoided all this.