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WCLawyer, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 15597
Experience:  L.LB (UOVS)
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How long do I have to pay maintenance to my biological child

Resolved Question:

How long do I have to pay maintenance to my biological child? He is 18 years of age and has matriculated last year. We do not have a relationship, I have not had contact with him for 7 years. His mother and I were not married. I am asking this in view of the fact that he wants to study at university and is demanding that I have to pay for it? Can you advise me on my obligations and will I be liable for his tuition etc..
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  WCLawyer replied 5 years ago.

Good day.

The Law states that you, as the biological parent of the child and provided he has not been adopted by the mother's current husband, provide maintenance for the child until such time as he can financially look after himself and becomes self sufficient. There is, unfortunately, no set age within which this obligation ends.

It is worth it to note at this stage that this obligation rests on both parents, proportional to their means. What this basically means in practice is that the party with the biggest salary will pay the most maintenance, but the obligation rests on both parents.

This obligation is on you whether you have a relationship with him or not and this would include his tuition fees. If, however, you can show to the Maintenance Court that you cannot afford these fees, not for lack of trying, they will not order you to pay the Maintenance fees.

With your child turning 18, the situation also changed a bit, in that he now have to represent himself in these maintenance matters and that his mother cannot do it for him anymore. So, if there is no maintenance order that currently orders you to pay for the tuition fees, you are not obliged to pay for the tuition fees, but you will have to continue to pay the amount of maintenance until a maintenance court has set the order aside.

You can apply for the setting aside of this Maintenance Order in the Maintenance Court where the order has been issued. You should ask the Maintenance Officer to assist you in getting this application started.

Feel free to ask any follow up questions.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your answer. I offered to adopt him about 8 or 9 years ago, as his mother has registered on his birth certificate - Father- Unknown. I just want to add that I am approaching 70 years of age - this November, and have been paying maintenance out of my own cognizance. I am not financially as well off as I was in the past, as business is not doing well, and I am near retirement, the maintenance is coming out of my own dwindling resources.
Expert:  WCLawyer replied 5 years ago.

If there is no maintenance order, issued by a Maintenance or other court, you basically only have a theoretical obligation to pay maintenance. The maintenance can only be forced on you once there is a court order.

So, you could, if you want to, stop with paying maintenance and wait for him to sue you for it.

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