Maintenance is the support (money) given by the person(s) held responsible to help provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care and schooling regardless of the nature of the relationship.
This can be divided into two sub-categories in terms of the Maintenance Act:
- Child maintenance is the ongoing obligation to make periodic payments to a child. Parents are obliged to this payment regardless of their marital status or lack thereof. Monthly earnings of both parents will be taken into account when this is calculated. Parents have a legal duty to support their children. The parent who is the primary caregiver of the child has a right to apply to Maintenance Court for an official demand that the other parent pay support. Once there is a court order instructing a parent to pay child support, it is a criminal offence not to pay. This duty does not automatically end when the child becomes an adult.
- Spousal maintenance on the other hand will be determined by the need for the maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay the amount sought. A party in a divorce matter would normally only be entitled to lifelong maintenance if there could be proven that the other party was the sole bread winner throughout the marriage and got him/her used to a certain standard of living which should be maintained after the divorce. This is not an automatic right and extensive proof will have to be provided in this instance.