One of the more complex concerns that follow a separation or divorce is the matter of child maintenance. By law, parents have a financial responsibility to provide and care for their child/children, regardless of the nature of the relationship between the parents. At Kim Armfield & Associates, our professional Family Law Services extend to Maintenance Matters and ensure that these agreements are not only fair but also coherent.
Maintenance money goes towards a child’s school fees, medical care, housing, clothing and other living or recreational expenses. In order to cover all the needs of the child/children, the magistrate court will provide an income-and-expense form that highlights everything from pocket money and pets to insurance, medical aid and savings. In most cases, this monthly maintenance amount will be paid towards the primary caregiver of the child and these obligatory payments are required until the child/children turn 18 – there are occasional exceptions to this though, one being if the child is mentally handicapped.
Many parents do not grasp the fact that child maintenance is not an option but rather a non negotiable responsibility that is geared towards the wellbeing of the child/children in question. It is also important to note that the duty of paying maintenance does not only fall on the father, but also on the mother or even (in some cases) the grandparents.
For those still uncertain of the first steps to take when claiming maintenance, Kim Armfield & Associates are available to provide sound advice and legal assistance. As the parent with custody over the child/children, you will first need to determine the financial needs (within reason) of the child/children on a month to month basis – once this has been established, our team of legal experts will begin the process of calculating a fair monthly maintenance amount, to be presented to the court and agreed upon by all involved. When determining the monthly maintenance rate, it is common to find that the court will allocate one part of this expense to a child and two parts to a parent, considering basic overhead expenses of rent/bond payments.
There are no loopholes for parents seeking relief from maintenance – even in cases where one parent earns less or does not have a steady income or job; modifications will need to be made to honour maintenance payments. In cases where one parents financial situation changes, leading to a loss of/lessened income, an application can be made in court for a variation in the maintenance agreement.
Sadly, there are still too many individuals trying to avoid the responsibility of paying child support, which often leads to uncivilised battles fought in maintenance court that have an effect on the whole family. Divorce alone has proven to have major psychological effects on kids, increasing the risk for depression and behavioural/emotional problems – this alone should encourage both parents to step up and provide.
For professional assistance with maintenance matters, allow our legal team at Kim Armfield and Associates to step in. We work with families to provide solutions that are fair and transparent, giving you one less thing to worry about.