When you have a Disrespectful parent on the other side, turning to the courts are the last option. The sad part is that mediation was designed to cost less and to enable issues to be sorted out efficiently and privately- because our children depend on it!
We share the following information with you to supply a few tips and for a better understanding of how the maintenance courts operate.
If you have a maintenance order in place and would like to have changes made to it, you apply to the Maintenance Court* in the area nearest to your children's residence. Helpful thing is that you can collect the forms at any magistrate's court and email or fax them to the relevant court. This is called a Maintenance Review.
The court will then reply to you with a court date and notify the other party as well. Confirm that the other party has acknowledged receipt- a warrant of arrest cannot be issued based on verbal confirmation only, should the party not arrive. If the other party does not arrive, the case cannot be heard and will be postponed. This is a waist of time for the court and yourself - so cross the T's by confirming! In this scenario, the court will supply paperwork and ask you to take it to the address of the other party to sign. They also require that the SAPS assist.
If your attorney advises you to play these games (like ignoring court dates), find a new attorney - you are damaging your children and opening a can of worms!
The Court Process
Now that you have the court date and court number and confirmed with the court that they have signed confirmation from the other party, get all the relevant documentation ready. These include your monthly budget and all financial/bank statements and invoices - anything that will serve as evidence.
If you and your ex are both present, a Prosecutor will first "mediate" out of court. If no settlement can be reached, a court date is set.
Make no mistake; this is not a happy place. It is a process and it takes time. Take a book or magazine to read and remember that you are here for your children! Book the day, it might only take half a day, but rather book the day.
Always try mediation first. Remember that to receive court papers feels like a punch in the face. To then have the SAPS arrive at your home or place of work because you did not arrive at court makes it worse. Fight or flight - before you know it punches are flying back and forth in the form of false allegations and more court cases. This is not about the hate/anger/shame you feel towards the other parent or yourself, it is about looking after your children's best interests only - be the bigger person!
Also know that your family and friends are supporting you - unfortunately they sometimes add fuel to the fire. Respectfully ask them to stop. Getting the wrong information or allowing yourself to be drawn into a world of hate will only prolong your visits to court.
*Thank you to the Maintenance Court in Pretoria and the SAPS Waterkloof Glen for the information and professional and effective service.