When parents separate, or were separated before the birth of the child/children, then both parents have to perform the function of providing child care. Sole ‘custody’ (now an informal term) of children often means that a single parent is responsible for raising the child. Most of the time the other parent, more often than not the father, has the right to visitation or contact, and assists the other parent in the upbringing of the child by providing financial assistance through compulsory maintenance, mandated by the state. But what happens when a parent decides not to pay maintenance?
The Responsibility of the Carer
When a parent has not paid his/her required child maintenance it is the responsibility of the carer to approach the Maintenance Court as a complainant. Without doing so, the state will have no proof that the parent has not paid child maintenance. If the parent responsible for the child maintenance payments (respondent) does not pay maintenance for more than a period of 10 days, then the complainant can approach the Maintenance Court. There are three orders that the complainant may apply for at the maintenance court in order to receive monies due. Without repayment after this period, the respondent is liable to pay fines and can even be jailed for a period up to 1 year.
The three orders that may be applied for are:
- A Warrant of Execution whereby the Sheriff of the Court may approach the respondent’s physical address and can claim any moveable and immovable property until such a time that the unpaid child maintenance is repaid.
- A Garnishee Order may also be made whereby any monetary compensation received by the respondent is immediately transferred to the account of the child carer until the child maintenance order is satisfied.
- A Debt Attachment means that debt owed to the respondent will be interrupted before being received and transferred to the complainant until child maintenance is satisfied.
In every instance, only a certain amount is payable for a certain period of time, and each order can be challenged by the respondent with sufficient evidence supporting his/her case.