Maintenance defaulters beware!

Christelis Artemides Attorneys

With effect from 5th January 2018 sections 2, 11 and 13(b) of the Maintenance Amendment Act,[1] will be operationalised. These sections allow any parent whom has defaulted on child maintenance to have their personal information supplied to credit bureaus and as a result face being blacklisted. This in turn means no credit for defaulters.

Section 2 of the Amendment Act amends section 7 of the Maintenance Act and deals with all investigations into maintenance complaints. The amendment allows for the tracing of a defaulter, with a court order allowing same, using electronic communication service providers (such as Vodacom, Cell C, MTN or Telkom). This is a faster, more efficient and effective way to locate defaulters. However who is to bear the cost? The costs of such trace are to be funded by the State should the complainant not be able to afford it, however there are some legal minds who argue it should be at the account of the defaulter on their next telecommunications invoice.

An additional amendment is that maintenance beneficiaries can now lodge applications in areas where they work, not only where they live. Making the process a lot easier in terms of hours taken off work and accessibility to courts. Courts have also been given the power to grant interim orders pending a final outcome of a matter.

Most complainants argue that they spend all their time and money in the courts trying to get orders and costs are not be awarded to them, now should a defaulter not appear a cost order can be granted against the defaulter, even if the defaulter absent from court proceedings.

The penalties clause is now a lot tougher than before. A penalty for defaulters can be three years imprisonment without the option of a fine for continued defaulters.

With these new amendments it’s safe to say stay on top of maintenance payments or the law won’t be on your side.

[1] Act no 9 of 2015.

Written by: Alessia Ryan