On an episode of No More Excuses: Pay Your Papgeld that aired in March this year, a young TV presenter ran for dear life when the shows presenter Moss Makwati and the crew approached him about his alleged non payment of child maintenance, reported SowetanLIVE.

After a healthy jog from the TV crew, he finally got tired and started expressing that he had nothing to say and did not owe anyone an explanation.  

Since then, the show has been growing in popularity because it highlights the problem South Africans experience when it comes to child maintenance by looking into the depth of problems parents have.

This show is important because women and in some cases men are left to take care of their children alone. The show also helps people that are denied access to their children as seen in the latest episode. 

The show also seems to get some people to finally own up and start paying their maintenance even though they may have been difficult at first. 

Here are some experiences with defaulting fathers some Twitter users have experienced: 

We know that not everyone is brave enough to write to shows such as No More Excuses: Pay your Papgeld and have the whole country share in their woes. And not everyone can hire an expensive lawyer. 

Here are the legal measures put together by Sheri Breslaw, a senior associate at Fairbridges Attorneys in Cape Town, that you can take if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer: 

If you are in the process of getting divorced: 

As is often the case, once a couple starts the process of divorce, their relationship can become acrimonious. As a result, one party might stop paying certain expenses in order to "punish" the other spouse. Our law makes provision for this situation. In terms of Rule 43 of the high court rules (or Rule 58 of the Magistrate's Court Rules if you are divorcing in the regional court) you may apply to the divorce court for a court order for maintenance for your children, maintenance for yourself, as well as for a contribution towards your legal costs, should you require it.

You will need to sign an affidavit stating what your financial circumstances are and why you require the financial assistance of the other spouse. The other party will have an opportunity to file an affidavit in reply and after this the case will be argued in front of a judge who will then make an order. Once the court has granted this interim order, it remains in place until the divorce is finalised.

READ MORE: Surviving divorce - financially

If you are not married:

If you are not married, or you are married but have not taken steps to file for divorce, you may approach the maintenance court for an order for maintenance for your children and/or for yourself. You will need to approach the court which is closest to where you live or work. 

The clerk of the court will help you to fill out an application form. The court will then subpoena the other parent to appear in court on a particular date for a maintenance enquiry. At the enquiry the clerk will assess your financial circumstances, as well as those of the other parent, and will ask for documentary proof to be provided by both parties.

The clerk will then try to assist the parties in reaching an agreement regarding maintenance which will then be made an order of court. If an agreement cannot be reached, the clerk will refer the matter to a magistrate. There will then be a formal court hearing where both parents will give evidence regarding their financial situation. The magistrate will then make a ruling which will become an order of court.

READ MORE: Vat en sit or marriage – which is the better option for you

In an emergency:

What about those times when you are desperate and cannot wait the weeks or months it takes in the high court or maintenance court? If the situation arises where you require urgent assistance, you may approach the magistrate's court for a domestic violence interdict where you ask for urgent or emergency monetary assistance. 

This situation can arise where, for example, a parent flees an abusive situation with their child, but as a result has virtually no immediate financial support from the other parent. In these situations you can ask the clerk of the domestic violence court to assist you in filling out the necessary forms. 

The magistrate will consider your application and, if satisfied, will grant you an interim interdict which will be served on the other party by the sheriff of the court. You will be given another court date where you are required to  return to court, together with the other party, in order for the other party to be heard. The magistrate will then determine whether a final interdict should be granted. In all probability the urgent monetary relief will not appear in the final interdict as you will have to approach either the divorce court or the maintenance court for an appropriate order in due course.

What about grandparents?

In terms of our maintenance laws, if a parent is unable to contribute financially towards the maintenance of his or her child, you are entitled to request financial assistance from that parent's parents. You would approach the maintenance court and follow the same route as detailed above. 

The grandparents would be subpoenaed to come to court. Their financial circumstances will be examined in order to determine whether, and to what extent, they are able to contribute financially towards the maintenance of their grandchild.

READ MORE: 5 tips for married couples living with their parents

If the other parent dies?

In the unfortunate situation where a parent dies while a child is still dependant, you are entitled to approach the executor of his or her estate and put in a claim against the estate for maintenance for the child.  

If the parent left a will and the will provides adequately for the child then the executor will simply give effect to the terms of the will.  If however the will does not provide adequately for the child, or if the parent does not have a will, you will need to submit a claim to the executor.

How is maintenance calculated?

There is no standard amount of maintenance which a parent has to pay in South Africa. The amount of maintenance is determined with reference to two variables: firstly, what the child's monthly costs are and, secondly, what the parents are able to afford to contribute. 

In order to determine what the costs of the child are you will need to calculate both the child's direct and indirect costs. Direct costs refer to costs attributed only to the child, for example school fees, school clothes, nappies and extra-mural activities. 

Indirect costs refer to those costs which need to be apportioned between all the people living in the home, such as groceries, rent, electricity, telephone, transport and the like. 

Once the total costs for the children are calculated, by adding together their direct and indirect costs, one then looks at the income of each parent, and the costs of the children are then divided between the parents pro rata in proportion to their salaries or income.

READ MORE:How much child maintenance should he be paying?

What if the parent doesn't pay?

Once a court order is in place, if the parent fails to pay in accordance with the order, he/she will be in contempt of the court order. There are several options that you have when this happens. You can lay a criminal charge against the defaulting parent who will then be subject to criminal prosecution. 

If the parent is formally employed you can make application to the maintenance court for a garnishee order to be issued. This is an order which will be served on the employer of the parent. The employer will be ordered to deduct from that parent's monthly salary the maintenance which he/she should be paying, and to pay the funds directly to you.

Alternatively, the maintenance court can issue a warrant of execution which authorises the sheriff of the court to demand the outstanding monies from the defaulting parent. If the funds are not paid over, the Sheriff will make an inventory of all the movable goods at the home of the defaulter and you can then instruct the sheriff to remove the goods, sell them on auction and pay over to you the funds raised on auction. If the defaulting party owns an immovable property you can also apply to court for permission to sell the immovable property in order to recover the arrear maintenance.

It is evident that the issue of maintenance can be highly contentious. However, with perseverance and the correct legal advice you can ensure that your children are properly cared for.

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