Paying maintenance is a responsibility & a right 

The duty to support minor children is a legal obligation that starts from the moment that a child is born and continues until the child becomes fully self-supporting. Maintenance is both a legal responsibility and right that rests completely on the shoulders of both parents and they must support their child proportionately according to their means. If the biological parents can not fulfill their legal duty to support their child, they may look to more remote relatives for support.

The importance of understanding laws about maintenance!


There are implications for receivers and payers of maintenance orders if maintenance orders are not adhered to, as it forms part of a person's credit profile. Beneficiaries of maintenance orders have legal options to protect and enforce their rights. 

Social Justice Maintenance Services endeavours to help parents achieve and maintain their family financial wellness. The best interest of children's standard must always is paramount.  

Maintenance Services are for both parents and for spouses

Our services are not just available to primary care givers or receivers of maintenance, but for both receivers and payers. Paying parents who experience difficulties in getting to their maintenance obligations can register their cases with us and we will facilitate negotiations with receiving parents.

Spousal maintenance payers and receivers qualify for the same services.

Additional information about maintenance

Those receiving maintenance:

Parents with primary care over their minor children have both the responsibility and the right to act in their best interest. Receiving maintenance from the other parent is a right to get financial support, and the responsibility to manage and utilise the support like a good steward. From the moment a child is born, both biological parents have a duty of support toward their child. A child is entitled to reasonable maintenance to provide for housing, clothing, medical and dental and health care, as well as education and training and, where applicable recreation. What is reasonable depends upon the circumstances such as the position of the family, the child’s health, and as regards to education and training, the child’s aptitude, and how well the child has done in his or her studies. The standard of living, taken together with factors such as aptitude and interest, for example, determines whether expenses for recreation, non-vocational training, and vocational training at secondary and tertiary levels will be awarded. In the assessment of maintenance for children, their needs and the parent's ability to pay are the primary factors to be considered, but the criterion of the “best interests of the child” is also relevant.  Have a question?  Send us email info@socialjustice.co.za

Those paying maintenance:

Parents with children who are not in their primary care have both the right and the responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of their children. The duty of support is based on relationship, a need to be supported, and adequate resources on the part of the person who is called upon to provide support. The duty of support is about the legal obligation that comes with family relationships. When calculating the duty of support in a maintenance matter, the court faces the challenge of dividing the child’s costs between the parents – “proportionately according to their means”, if the parties fail to agree on the amount, or can not settle with the assistance of a mediator. Calculating the amount of maintenance is therefore first and foremost a financial inquiry. To arrive at a fair outcome, reliable and clear information about the costs of the child, the custodian parent’s income and expenditure, the non-custodial parent’s income, and expenditure are required. For unwed fathers, paying maintenance regularly can help establish and formalise parental responsibilities and rights to children. On a personal level making regular maintenance contributions can help to establish and maintain ongoing relationships between parents. When parents cannot support their children, the extended duty of support principle in our law can be extended to other relatives in the direct linage of the parents.

Spousal maintenance:

There is a duty of support between parents and their children, as well as between spouses. There is also a duty of support between some other relatives. In law, the duty of support always falls on the closer relative rather than the more distant one. When one marries, the duty of support rests primarily on one’s spouse; only if one’s spouse cannot give support can one’s parents be called upon to do so. If parents do support a married child, they have a right to recovery against the spouse. The duty of support between husband and wife comes to an end when one of the spouses dies, or if they get divorced. However, their divorce order could stipulate that one person continues to have a duty of support towards the other and should pay a certain amount of spousal maintenance. One of the invariable consequences of marriage is that the duty of support arises between husband and wife. As in the support of children, it is often argued that the duty is primarily the husbands. If income is insufficient to provide support for a spouse, it may be necessary to liquidate assets. Spouses must look to each other for support before they look to more remote relatives. The scope of the duty is determined by the couple’s standing in the community and standard of living. It is by no means confined to bare necessities. Rehabilitative Maintenance is where a maintenance order applies for a specific period, it is called a rehabilitative maintenance order. This is normally awarded to younger or middle-aged women who have for years devoted themselves to the upbringing of the children and who were full-time involved in the household. The purpose of this kind of maintenance is to tie them over to be trained or retrained to find suitable employment. The court may award lifelong maintenance to a woman that is too old to find a job. Token maintenance is an order for a minimal amount. The court will make such an order if there is no reason to grant maintenance at the time of the divorce but foresees that the spouse may in the future need maintenance. The court would then be able to increase the amount in the future should the need arise.

About Social Justice Maintenance Services

We have rendered services to thousands of people relating to child and spousal maintenance matters and we have trained many public sector officials, legal representatives, and family mediators to deal with challenges in maintenance matters.

Contact Us

General Enquiries: orders@socialjustice.org.za
Maintenance Services
and other Enquiries

Tel 072 675 7516

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