The law requires that every child be provided with basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services. The law places these obligations first and foremost on the parents of the child. This duty rest upon each parent in relation to that parents means. It is commonly thought that the duty rests solely on the father and others may even think that the duty rests on each parent equally. Neither of these situations accord with the law. For example, if the mother earns R300 000 per annum and the father R200 000 per annum, the mother will be responsible for 60 percent and the father 40 percent of the child’s maintenance.
Parents must provide the child with food, clothing, accommodation, medical care and education. The question that always arises in these matters is how much maintenance must be paid. The law takes into account the needs of the particular child in question. Some children may require extra medical care or educational attention. Therefore the court will take into account the circumstances of each child in calculating the total cost of maintaining that child. Then court will require the parent instituting the claim to provide it with receipts for rent, electricity, water, groceries, clothes, transport, school fees, books, uniform, sport, extra-curricular expenses, medical expenses, holiday expenses and any other expense so that it can make its calculation. The court will also require that these expenses be reasonable in the circumstances.
An applicant parent can institute a claim through the offices of an attorney or do a DIY claim by going directly to the Magistrates court in the area where the children live and lodge the claim with the clerk of the maintenance court. The clerk may assist the parent in completing the forms. The court will require the receipts mentioned above as well as a copy of the applicant parent’s ID, proof of income (if any), the child’s ID, a copy of divorce order (if applicable), proof of any particular circumstances regarding the child (like disability etc.) and all then information the applicant parent may have on the other parent.