By Sanette Viljoen
It often happens that a maintenance-paying parent no longer wants to pay a child’s maintenance because the child has come of age. At the age of 18 a child finishes school but perhaps wants to pursue his studies. The child is therefore still needs maintenance.
A claim for maintenance does not expire when the child turns 18. The parents’ maintenance duty continues for as long as children need maintenance.
Entitlement to maintenance will also be determined on the strength of each child’s particular circumstances. Likewise the parent’s maintenance liability will be determined by their financial circumstances. Each case will therefore be judged on its merits.
Should a child wish to go to a university on leaving school, the particular circumstances of the child will be considered, e.g. whether the child’s marks are good enough for further study. If the child’s marks are good enough, the child is not automatically entitled to claim university fees from the parent if the parent cannot afford it. The privilege of going to university will depend on whether the parents can afford it.
When maintenance is determined, the circumstances of both the child and the parent are taken into consideration.
Parents’ liabilities towards a child do not change when the child turns 18 years of age or if the parents are divorced. Both parents remain liable for taking care of the child for as long as the child needs maintenance.
A maintenance order does not have to make the maintenance subject to a certain period of time. The parent’s maintenance duty does not arise from the order but is the common-law duty of each father and mother. The deed of settlement or maintenance order only makes an arrangement that at that stage will apply for the next term. It does not rule out an increased maintenance duty if the child needs it.