What happens if a paying parent doesn’t pay child maintenance?

Both parents are required to perform the function of providing child care when parents separate or were separated before the birth of the child/children. When a single parent is responsible for raising the child it is called ‘sole custody’ which is now an informal term. In this case, the other parent would most of the time, more often than not the father, have the right to visitation or contact and assist the other parent in the upbringing of the child by providing financial assistance through compulsory maintenance, mandated by the state. What can be done when a parent decides not to pay maintenance?

The Responsibility of the Carer

The responsibility lies with the carer when a parent has not paid his/her required child maintenance and the carer should then approach the Maintenance Court as a complainant. The state will have no proof that the parent has not paid child maintenance without the carer’s complaint. The Maintenance Court can be approached if the parent responsible for the child maintenance payments (respondent) does not pay maintenance for more than a period of 10 days. To receive monies due to the complainant, he/she may apply for the due amount from the maintenance court in three orders. If no monies are received after this period, the respondent is liable to pay fines and can even be jailed for a period of up to one year.

The three orders that may be applied for are:

  1. A Warrant of Execution whereby the Sheriff of the Court may approach the respondent’s physical address and can claim any moveable and immovable property until such a time that the unpaid child maintenance is repaid.
  2. A Garnishee Order may also be made whereby any monetary compensation received by the respondent is immediately transferred to the account of the child carer until the child maintenance order is satisfied.
  3. A Debt Attachment means that debt owed to the respondent will be interrupted before being received and transferred to the complainant until child maintenance is satisfied.

Only a certain amount is payable for a certain period of time in each instance, and each order can be challenged by the respondent with sufficient evidence supporting his/her case.

For more information regarding maintenance repayments, make sure you contact one of South Africa’s most experienced child maintenance lawyers, Joselowitz & Andrews Attorneys.