Many struggling parents are currently wondering if payment holidays apply to child maintenance in South Africa as the country continues to navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown.
According to child maintenance lays in South Africa, all parents are required to provide financially for their children.
This applies to parents who are single, divorced, married, living together or not living together, separated as well as parents to adopted children.
So, how is child maintenance in South Africa affected by something like the global pandemic we are currently facing which has had an unprecedented effect on the economy?
Parents are not permitted to make a unilateral decision to suddenly stop paying child maintenance, even though it may not be possible to get the court to revise their maintenance order until after the lockdown.
In addition, and despite the financial difficulty faced by many parents right now, the parent who claims inability to pay child maintenance will have to provide the child maintenance court with substantial evidence.
The court will require the parent to prove the following:
As it currently stands, any child maintenance issues must be submitted in writing to the courts and the judge will then decide if the matter is urgent enough to be heard during lockdown. If not, it will have to wait until after the lockdown restrictions have lifted.
Either way, the court may grant a reduction in child maintenance requirements if it can be proved that the parent has deteriorated financially because of circumstances out of his or her control.
It’s important that both parents respect the fact that expenses related to their children are likely still effective. The lockdown has not changed the fact that children need food, safety, medical aid and education.
Therefore, the best-case scenario would be for both parents to come to a temporary arrangement for the period of the lockdown, with the understanding that the maintenance order will once again be effective when circumstances return to normal.
Before looking for a child maintenance payment holiday, parents should first seek a payment holiday for other expenses such as care payments or home loan payments.
Claiming for arrear child maintenance payments can be done after lockdown and it’s important for parents to understand that courts will not only consider their income but also their assets when making a decision to reduce the maintenance order.
Despite the immense financial pressure that parents are currently under, it remains their responsibility to provide for their children.
Therefore, payment holidays from other institutions should be first option before reducing monthly child maintenance payments.
Our family law attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of children when it comes to child maintenance in South Africa. Contact us for assistance.
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