Getting a Maintenance Order


Parents have a legal duty to support their children. The parent who is the primary caregiver of the child has a right to apply to a Maintenance Court for an official demand that the other parent pay support.

If the children are not living with the mother or the father, the person who is looking after them can also apply for maintenance from the parents. For example, if a child is living with their grandparents, the grandparents can apply to get maintenance from the father and the mother of the child.

Once there is a court order instructing a parent to pay child support, it is a criminal offence not to pay. 

Child Maintenance
There are special Maintenance Courts at every Magistrates' Court. Maintenance officers work in these courts and help people who want to apply for maintenance. They also deal with applications to increase or reduce maintenance payments.

Steps to Follow:

  • Apply for maintenance at the Magistrates' Court in the district where you live.
  • If you are in doubt, your local court will tell you at which court to apply for maintenance.
  • Go to the relevant court and complete and submit Form A: Application for a Maintenance Order.
  • In addition to the completed form, submit proof of your monthly income and expenses, such as receipts for food purchases, electricity and/or rent bill payments.
  • The court will serve a summons (a letter instructing a person to come to court) on the respondent (the person against whom the claim is brought) to appear in court on a specific date to discuss the matter.
  • The respondent agrees to pay the maintenance as claimed, and a magistrate will review the relevant documentation. He or she will then make an order, and may decide to do so without requiring the parties to appear in court.
  • If the person who is allegedly liable to pay maintenance does not consent to the issuance of an order, he or she must appear in court, where evidence from both parties and their witnesses will be heard.
  • If the court finds the person liable for paying maintenance, payments must be made.

The court can order maintenance money to be paid in one of the following ways:

  • At the local magistrate's office or any other government office designated for this purpose.
  • Into the bank or building society account designated by the person concerned.
  • Directly to the person who is entitled to the money.
  • By means of an order that directs the employer of the person who is liable for paying maintenance to deduct the maintenance payment directly from the employee's salary, in accordance with the new Maintenance Act, 1998.

For more information, contact a maintenance officer at your local Magistrates' Court.

Forms to Complete:
Access all maintenance forms here.

Source: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 21 January 2015