Here’s how to claim 

Every child is entitled to acquire maintenance for their basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, education and health care. There are many myths about child maintenance. For example, many people believe that parents must support their children only until they reach the age of 18. The parent’s duty to help their children continues until their child is self-supporting.

Who can claim child maintenance?

The biological parent of a minor child (whether the father or mother) can claim maintenance from the child’s other parent. A parent of an adopted child can claim maintenance from the other adoptive parent.

A significant child (over 18 years) can claim maintenance directly from their parent(s) without the assistance of a parent.

How much maintenance should I pay?

The amount of maintenance that parties pay depends on two factors:
The suitable needs of the child; and
The financial situation of each parent.

The reasonable needs of the child

Firstly, the parents must calculate the amount required per month to support their child. This calculation must consider the family’s standard of living. The total includes food, clothing, school fees and medical aid.

The financial position of each parent

Parents must disclose their income and expenses. The parent with the higher net income will have to pay most of the maintenance. So, for example, if the father earns twice what the mother earns, he will have to pay two-thirds of the maintenance, and she will have to contribute one-third of the maintenance. In most cases, both parents will have to support the minor children.

Of course, a court cannot order a parent to pay maintenance that they cannot afford. If a parent cannot pay maintenance, the court will order them to pay a lesser amount. If a parent has no income at all, they will not be required to pay maintenance unless they own significant assets which can be used to pay maintenance.


How to claim child maintenance

Claiming maintenance for a minor child is often a lengthy and gruelling process. The process may start with negotiations between the parents without outside assistance. However, the parties often need to use a mediator or attorneys and ultimately land up in court. 

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