Getting Divorced

How to calculate maintenance?



In order to claim for maintenance, you must first determine the reasonable needs of the child on a monthly basis. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally the child's share of the common expenses in the household is determined by allocating one-part per child and two-parts per adult or older child.

The following table may be used as an example of how to calculate these expenses properly where there is a parent and 3 children in the household. In this example, each child will be allocated 20 per cent of the total expense shared by all members of the household.

Only once the child's reasonable monthly needs have been determined will one be able to establish the contribution that each parent is required to make to meet those needs.

The formula applied in practice to determine this contribution is as follows:

(parent's gross income)   (child's needs)
_____________________________   _____________
(total gross income of both parents) X 1
= R00.00 (parent's contribution)    

Maintenance cannot be measured in monetary terms alone. Usually, the parent who cares for the child on a daily basis indirectly contributes towards maintenance because of the time they spend together. Notwithstanding this, both parents still have a financial obligation to pay maintenance in accordance with their means, income and expenditures.

Maintenance may need to be adjusted regularly, depending on the changing needs of the child or the financial position of the parents. Once the need for a change in maintenance arises, whether filing a new application or seeking to vary an existing court order/settlement agreement, the applicant can request that the maintenance court:

  • set aside an existing maintenance order;
  • make a new maintenance order;
  • decrease a current order;
  • amend a current order; or
  • change an existing order.

Either of the parents can apply to the Magistrate's Court where the children reside for a variation of the current maintenance order, but only if circumstances change. Examples will be if the father for instance, loses his job or remarries; and, in the mother's case, where a child may need special care (occupational therapy). It was decided in previous cases that where a father remarries and then has to support a "second" family, this financial obligation shouldn't impact negatively on his "first" family. A father may not raise a defence that the needs of his second wife is a reason to reduce maintenance in respect of the children of his first wife.

Posted by CoParenting

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