Compared to other legal matters, child maintenance legal issues may appear simple. However, child maintenance could be much more complicated. Fortunately, this does not have to be the case.
What is child maintenance?
Child maintenance is a sum of money a parent is obligated to pay to another person acting as a legal guardian of their child to support that child. A legal duty to support a child is based on the need to be supported and the ability to support. For example, a father has a legal obligation to support his child if the child requires support and he can support the child.
Who is eligible for child maintenance?
All children have the right to maintenance from their parents, regardless of whether they were born during a marriage or out of wedlock. In addition, adopted children have the right to child maintenance from their adoptive parents, but they do not have the right to child maintenance from their biological parents. Furthermore, children may receive child maintenance from their grandparents if their parents cannot support them and the grandparents are financially capable of doing so.
How to submit a child maintenance application
An application for child maintenance against a defendant (the person who must pay child maintenance) can be made at any Maintenance Court in the district where the complainant (person who applies for child maintenance) or the child on whose behalf child maintenance is claimed lives or works.
Who can file a child maintenance claim?
A child’s parents, guardians, or caregivers can apply for child maintenance on their behalf.
What expenses can be claimed in relation to a child?
When calculating the amount of child maintenance to be claimed, the following expenses should be considered: accommodation, food, clothing, education, and medical care. In addition, the provision for electricity, water, linen, and laundry can be included.
When calculating the amount of child maintenance, the parents’ standard of living and financial means are also considered.
What is required when applying for child maintenance?
- The complainant’s identification document.
- Contact information for the complainant, including their phone number and home and work addresses.
- The child’s birth certificate.
- A detailed list of expenses and any supporting documentation like receipts.
- The complainant’s payslip and proof of any other income.
- As much information about the defendant as possible, like phone numbers, home and work addresses, a list of known income and expenses, etc.
What happens after the child maintenance application is submitted?
- The maintenance officer will notify the defendant of the application and conduct an informal investigation with both the complainant and the defendant present.
- The defendant must bring any proof of income and expenses to the informal investigation.
- The informal investigation’s purpose is to assist the complainant and defendant in reaching an agreement.
- If a settlement is reached between the complainant and the defendant, it will become a court order.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, the maintenance officer will refer the case to court for a formal investigation.
- The court will consider the facts and evidence of the claim before deciding whether child maintenance should be paid and how much child maintenance should be paid. The court will then issue an order based on its decision.
- Both the complainant and the defendant must be present during informal and formal inquiries, and legal counsel may represent both.
- If the defendant fails to appear in court for the formal enquiry, the court may issue an order in their absence.
- If the complainant and/or defendant consent in writing to the child maintenance order being granted, they will not be required to appear in court.
How can a child maintenance order be enforced?
If the defendant fails to pay child maintenance in accordance with a child maintenance order, the complainant may pursue the following remedies:
- Warrant of execution – the attachment and sale of the defendant’s property, including furniture and vehicles.
- Emoluments attachment order – this involves the attachment defendant’s salary for the payment of monthly child maintenance.
- Attachment of debt – the attachment of money owed to the defendant by a third party that is not a salary, such as rent owed by a defendant’s tenant.
- Criminal prosecution – filing a criminal complaint against a defendant for noncompliance with a child maintenance order.
When using one of these remedies, the complainant must have a copy of the child maintenance order and proof of the defendant’s failure to pay child maintenance. Then, if an order for any of the above remedies is granted, the respondent’s information must be provided to any business involved in credit ratings, like credit bureaus, or whose purpose is to grant credit.
Until when should a child be maintained?
A parent’s duty to support their child does not end when the child reaches a certain age, but rather when the child becomes self-sufficient. For example, when a child begins to work, they are generally considered self-sufficient. However, there are times when continued support is required in accordance with the child’s need for support, for example, if the child has a mental or physical disability.
Contact Michael Krawitz for details
Contact Michael Krawitz Attorneys today for more information about child maintenance. We offer several specialised services and handle each case with special care and attention.