Life Guides
What is maintenance?

“Maintenance" is a broad term which includes the provision of food, housing, clothing, medical care and education (which may include tertiary education) for the child from one or both parents. It is the duty to support a minor.

It is more than the provision of the child’s bare necessities. The level at which maintenance is provided is usually determined by the standard of living of the parent and their standing in the community, which then determines the standard of living of your child. This means that the amount of maintenance paid depends on the parent's salary and financial ability.

When a need arises to increase maintenance, a parent may approach a maintenance court in the area where the dependent child is residing.

Paying child maintenance is an absolute duty of both parents. The duty remains in force until a child turns 18 or becomes self-supporting. Whether you are registered or not as a parent on a baby’s birth certificate, does not take away this duty.

You still have to pay maintenance for your child even if the other parent remarries, is in another relationship, doesn't allow you to see the children, or either of you have more children. Access (custody) and maintenance are two separate things.

A child must also be supported or maintained by the grandparents, whether or not the child's parents were married to each other, if the parents are unable to support the child.

When a biological father is not married to the mother he loses his parental responsibilities and rights but he must still pay half of the maintenance for his child. Some unmarried fathers want to have a relationship with their child and the law says these fathers can claim some rights but they need to prove some things first – mostly that they are helping financially.


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