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Micah 6:8. "He has showed you,
O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Getting a Maintenance Order:

Steps to Follow:

* Apply for maintenance at the magistrate's court in the district where you live.
* If you are in doubt, your local court will tell you at which court to apply for maintenance.
* Go to the relevant court and complete and submit Form A: "Application for a maintenance order."
* In addition to the completed form, submit proof of your monthly income and expenses, such as receipts for food purchases, electricity and/or rent bill payments.
* The court will serve a summons (a letter instructing a person to come to court) on the respondent (the person against whom the claim is brought ) to appear in court on a specific date to discuss the matter.
* The respondent agrees to pay the maintenance as claimed, a magistrate will review the relevant documentation. He or she will then make an order, and may decide to do so without requiring the parties to appear in court.
* If the person who is allegedly liable to pay maintenance does not consent to the issuance of an order, he or she must appear in court, where evidence from both parties and their witnesses will be heard.
* If the court finds the person liable for paying maintenance, payments must be made.
* The court can order maintenance money to be paid in one of the following ways:

+ At the local magistrate's office or any other government office designated for this purpose.
+ Into the bank or building society account designated by the person concerned.
+ Directly to the person who is entitled to the money.
+ By means of an order that directs the employer of the person who is liable for paying maintenance to deduct the maintenance payment directly from the employee's salary, in accordance with the new Maintenance Act, 1998.

For more information contact the maintenance officer at your local Magistrates' Court.
Source: Department of Justice & Constitutional Development.



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(NB: for ease of reference the person claiming maintenance is the “plaintiff” and the person against whom maintenance may be claimed is called the “defendant”. Maintenance Officer is “MO”.)


Maintenance matters are heard in Maintenance Courts, presided over by a maintenance officer. Maintenance courts are located at every magistrate's courts. They may be approached when maintenance is sought from a person who is legally liable towards a minor child (Form A) must be completed, or for the discharge or substitution of existing maintenance orders. (Form B) must be completed.

The Maintenace Officer may make a maintenance order compelling the defendant to pay maintenance in a particular form and manner. He may also order the defendant to pay arrears from date of birth as well as costs of birth.

The Maintenace Officer may make specific orders such as compelling the defendant to add his child as a dependent on his medical aid scheme.

He may also attach annuities, provident funds and similar for maintenance, but this is restricted to cases where defendant has acted in bad faith. He may also order an emolument attachment order.

When variation of existing order is sought, the defendant must show “good cause” - basically changed circumstances of the minor child, or the parents, that would justify a higher or lower amount.

Defendant does not arrive

Should Defendant not arrive but has consented in writing to the judgement (Form G) an order may be made. An order may be made against an absent Defendant if he consents in writing to judgement.

Should defendant fail to attend, and he does not consent to judgement in writing and Maintenace Officer is satisfied that he had knowledge of the proceedings, he may allow plaintiff to adduce evidence and make an order as he sees fit, including default judgement.

It should be noted that failure to attend where he does not consent to default judgement is a criminal offence.

Steps defendant may take:
If default judgment is obtained, the defendant may apply to court for rescission or variation of judgment. (Form I) must be completed and Application must be made within 20 days of defendant becoming aware of judgement or later on good cause shown.


If paternity is disputed, the court may order a paternity test. If paternity is disputed and both parties agree to a test, but cannot afford it, the court has discretion to order state to pay part or all of the cost of the test.


Either party may appeal against an order of the maintenance court. However, the lodging of an appeal does not suspend payment of maintenance and that whoever lodges will have to bear the cost. As appeals are made to the High Court this can be very expensive.

One cannot appeal against judgement by consent or default judgements.

An appeal must be lodged within 20 days, setting out what is being appealed and the grounds of appeal.


Maintenance Orders can be enforced through attachment of property, emoluments attachment order or the attachment of any debt.

Interest is payable on arrear maintenance.

Action may be taken once at least 10 days have passed after due date of maintenance payment.

To authorise above remedies plaintiff must complete (Form K), attach a copy of maintenance order and accompanied by a statement under oath (Form Q) stating that defendant has failed to meet his maintenance obligations.

If a defendant wishes to set aside an attachment order he must complete (Form M). If he can satisfy court at an enquiry that he has met his obligations, the attachment order will be rescinded.

Court will consider his ability to pay, provided it is not self-created, such as avoiding maintenance by not working, the needs of the child, and defendants conduct to date as well as any other relevant factors.

A warrant of execution may be suspended and replaced with an emolument attachment order is granted, the employer will become liable for maintenance and non-payment of maintenance would then be pursued against the employer for as long as defendant is in his employ.

Such an order may be rescinded, amended on good cause. Application for rescission, amendment or suspension is made after giving notice to other party on (Form N).

A warrant of execution may be suspended and replaced with an attachment of debt owing to the defendant.

(Form P) must be completed for rescission, amendment or suspension of such an order.


A claim of inability to pay will not succeed if due to defendant's unwillingness to work.

Failure to pay maintenance is a criminal offence which carries the possibility of a year in prison with or without the possibility of a fine.

The defaulters details may also be referred to credit bureaux.


If one of the parties is in a foreign state, refer to act 80 of 1963

Failure to attend a court hearing is a criminal offense.
Maintenance Orders can be enforced through attachment of property.
Interest is payable on arrear maintenance.
Defaulters details may be referred to the credit bureaux.
An employer may become liable for an employee's maintenance


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