Maintenance Court – What do they do?
The role of the maintenance court
If a parent or guardian does not pay reasonable maintenance or no maintenance at all, the maintenance court can enforce compliance. This will happen through the Maintenance Court which is usually located in your closest Magistrate Court. Once an order is made, the court may decide whether to prosecute criminally or to handle it as a civil matter. The Maintenance Court will also consider applications for adjustment of maintenance in cases where the circumstances of the parent or guardian paying maintenance changed significantly.
The maintenance investigator – What do they do?
Each maintenance court has a maintenance investigator. It is the job of the investigator to gather evidence related to the maintenance matter. Due to the nature and amount of maintenance cases these offices often are very busy, but they are here to assist you with the gathering of information in your case.
How does the maintenance court make a decision?
A maintenance court may only make an order against a parent or guardian if there is evidence that he/she can afford the maintenance claimed. This creates a problem when one parent claims that the other parent can afford the maintenance but does not have any concrete evidence to back this statement. The court will not be able to make a suitable order under these circumstances.
Any guidelines I can follow while in the process of claiming maintenance?
The court will entertain no application for child maintenance if it is excessive. Thus, if you know the other parent/guardian cannot afford your amount claimed, or if you intentionally claim too much, you will be wasting your and the court’s time.
Maintenance Court Investigator
Insist on the assistance of the maintenance investigator to investigate the financial affairs of the party you are claiming maintenance from. This is the best way to find out whether the defaulting party is hiding any information. Following is some tips that you can utilize to assist you with your maintenance application. You may want to ask the maintenance officer / maintenance investigator for some guidance and assistance to help you.
• Defaulter’s employer
Request from the maintenance court to issue a subpoena against the defaulter’s employer to provide the salary advices from the defaulter. It’s also a good idea to request the employer to avail the details of the defaulter’s pension fund.
• Defaulter’s bank account
Request the court to subpoena various banking institutions for bank statements of the defaulter. The bank statements will be a clear indication of the lifestyle of the defaulter. This information can be used to show the court that the defaulter in fact can afford to cut some expenses to spend more money on his/her child. The bank statements will also provide proof of possible additional income streams.
• Defaulter’s Credit Profile
A credit profile from the defaulter will reveal valuable information such as employment and residential addresses, where the defaulter has credit and for what purposes the defaulter applied for credit. Some courts (not all) have the facility to obtain credit profiles of the defaulters. To expedite your application you might want to consider to pay for a tracing agent such as Traceyourbabydaddy to assist you with this information. They will supply you with the latest know details of the defaulter.
• Social Media
Few people have filters on social media. Whether its Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, this is one sure way of finding information about the lifestyle the defaulter is living. Pictures of expensive holidays at exotic destinations or check-ins at fancy restaurants will provide valuable information regarding the real standard of living the defaulter is maintaining. This information may be submitted as evidence when you apply for maintenance.
• Property Search
This is by far the easiest approach to determine the extent of the defaulter’s property portfolio. It’s easy to pretend that you can only afford to rent the house you live in but then you own property in other parts of the country.
How to treat income from the defaulter that is not consistent?
It might be that the defaulting party is self-employed and only gets paid with cash. There will be limited information on bank statements and no payslips. You need to become creative in questioning clients of the defaulter regarding his/her tariffs/fees. You may provide this information to the maintenance court and the investigator must follow up on it.
Which parent or guardian carries the most responsibility towards maintenance of the child?
As per the Children’s Act of 2005, both parents have full parental responsibilities and rights in relation to a child. When a dispute arises regarding the responsibilities and rights of a parent, the prejudiced parent/guardian may make an application in the High Court confirming his responsibilities and rights as well as enforcing it. Keep in mind that this is a costly affair and its advised that you do this with the aid and help of an attorney.