If the child is not living with the mother or the father, the person who is looking after the child can also apply for maintenance costs from the parents. For example, if a child is living with their grandparents, they 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.
Important steps to follow
- First, you need to apply for a maintenance order at the Magistrate's Court (also called District Courts) in the district where you live.
- If you’re unsure, your local court will give you advice and tell you exactly at which court to apply for maintenance.
- Go to the relevant court, and complete and submit Form A: Application for a maintenance order (J101).
- You’ll also need to bring the following:
- Your ID, or a certified copy.
- Certified copies of the child/children’s birth certificates.
- Proof of your monthly income and expenses, such as receipts for food purchases, electricity and/or rent payments.
- Three months’ latest bank statements.
- Three months’ latest payslips.
- Full name and proof of the physical and/or work address of the person responsible for paying the maintenance money.
- If you were married and are now divorced, a copy of the divorce order.
- The court will set a date on which you and the respondent, (the person whom you wish to pay maintenance) must go to the court.
- A maintenance officer and an investigator will investigate your claim and look into your circumstances.
- 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 then has a choice between:
- Agreeing to pay the maintenance as claimed, or
- Contesting the matter in court.
- If the respondent agrees to pay the maintenance as claimed, 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, it will make an order for the amount of maintenance to be paid. The court will also determine when and how 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, or
- 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 1998 Maintenance Act.
Your view of the other parent's behaviour has no effect on your children's right to maintenance. You still have to pay maintenance, even if the other parent
- has remarried,
- is involved in another relationship,
- does not allow you to see the children, and/or
- if either party later has more children.
How long will child maintenance be paid?
The duty to pay maintenance continues regardless of your child’s age, and lasts until the child is self-supporting, adopted or has died.
- Once your child reaches the age of 18 years, the responsibility is on him or her to prove how much maintenance he or she needs.
Note: If your child is self-supporting he or she cannot claim maintenance from any of his or her parents.
- The duty to support a child ends at the child’s death but not at the parent’s death. However, in the event of the parent’s death, the child may lodge a claim for maintenance against the deceased parent’s estate.
Applying for a maintenance order is free.
Forms to complete
All forms are available from the National Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
For more information