Child maintenance is another by-product of divorce that can be a complex and confusing one. Some of the most common questions asked are:
- What exactly is child maintenance?
- Who is responsible for paying it?
- How do you calculate child maintenance?
And lastly, and perhaps the most difficult one to answer – what is fair with regard to child maintenance, as every situation is different?
In order to answer some of these questions, we need to refer to Section 15 (1) of The Maintenance Act. Section 15 (1) stipulates that “Without derogating from the law relating to the liability of persons to support children who are unable to support themselves, a maintenance order for the maintenance of a child is directed at the enforcement of the common law duty of the child’s parents to support that child.”
Therefore it is every parent’s, legal guardians’, adoptive parents and sometimes even a grandparent’s duty to support the child/children until they are able to realistically and financially support themselves. The level of support required differs case by case and is assessed and calculated based on various criteria. The ‘support’ which a parent is legally bound to supply encompasses a manner of things including the provision of the following:
- Medical care
The purpose of child maintenance is to successfully cater for the reasonable needs of the child. In order to do so, the ‘reasonable needs’ need to be defined so that an accurate calculation of the child’s share to the overall household expenditure can be done. These factors contribute when determining the child’s expenses: child’s age and inherent requirements, number of people in the household as well as the employment status and social means of the parents. In addition to this, there are certain criteria that need to be met in order to substantiate for child maintenance, which are:
- A legitimate & demonstrated requirement of the party requesting support.
- Sufficient means on the part of the person required to pay the maintenance.
It is every parent’s duty to support their children to the best of their ability including financially. However, there are extenuating circumstances where a parent may not be obligated to provide such support. If a parent is unable to work due to health reasons, or the needs of the child supersede the level of support reasonably offered by the relevant parent, then the child maintenance may be reassessed
Much like parenting plans, it is advantageous to determine a child maintenance plan with the assistance of a mediator. As specialist practitioners, Joselowitz & Andrews Attorneys offer an array of services within the family law field to help you and your family achieve the best possible outcome.