7 Key Steps To Follow When Suing For Child Support In South Africa


Child support is a legal obligation, meaning all parents must financially support their children. In South Africa, child support is governed by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which outlines parents’ legal rights and responsibilities. Despite the legal obligation, some parents fail to meet their financial obligations, leaving the custodial parent struggling to provide for their child’s needs.

If you plan on suing for child support, there are seven key steps that you should follow. Firstly ensure that you know your legal rights and responsibilities, then gather evidence, seek legal advice, consider mediation, file your claim if mediation does not work, attend court, and enforce the court order.

Whether you have been or are going through a divorce or separation or trying to get the other parent to play a financial role in your shared child’s life, suing for child support can be a scary prospect. We will aid you in this endeavour by discussing the process involved in suing for child support in South Africa and providing a few tips for success.


7 Key Steps You Should Follow When Suing for Child Support

Suing for child support can be a daunting process, but there are steps that custodial parents can take to increase their chances of success. Here are some crucial aspects to remember:


1. Know Your Legal Rights And Responsibilities:

Before taking any legal action, it is essential to understand your legal responsibilities and rights as a parent. Section 18 of the Children’s Act sets out the legal requirements for child support, and custodial parents should be familiar with these provisions.


2. Gather Evidence

To succeed in a child support claim, custodial parents need to provide evidence to support their claim. This evidence includes bank statements, payslips, and other relevant documentation. It is also helpful to keep a record of any communication with the other parent regarding child support, including emails and text messages.


3. Seek Legal Advice

Custodial parents may benefit from seeking legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help guide you through the legal process, advise you on the best course of action, and represent you in court if necessary.


4. Consider Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process that you can use to resolve disputes outside of court. Mediators are neutral third parties who can help facilitate negotiations between the parents and come to a mutually agreed-upon child support arrangement.


5. File Your Claim

If mediation fails, or you cannot reach an agreement with the other parent, you can file a claim for child support in court. You will need to provide all the evidence you have gathered, and the court will decide on the appropriate amount of child support based on the child’s needs and the parent’s financial situation.


6. Attend Court

If your case goes to court, attending all court hearings and following the court’s instructions is essential. You may need to provide further evidence or testimony to support your claim.


7. Enforce The Court Order

Once the court has decided on child support, ensuring that the other parent complies with the court order is vital. If they fail to do so, you can take further legal action to enforce the order, such as applying to the courts to deduct the maintenance from the respondent’s wages (Garnishee order).


The Legal Process Of Suing For Child Support

Suing for child support is a legal process that involves going to court to obtain a court order for child support. The process can be complex and time-consuming, and it is often emotionally challenging for custodial parents. However, it is an essential step that helps to ensure your children receive the financial support they need to thrive.

The legal process of suing for child support begins with filing a claim in court. The claim should include information about the parents and child and how much support you seek as a custodial parent. You must also provide evidence to support your claims, such as proof of the other parent’s income and expenses.

Once you have filed the claim, the court will issue a summons to the other parent, notifying them of the claim and the court date. If the other parent fails to appear in court, the court may grant a default judgment in your favour.

If the other parent contests the claim, the court will hold a hearing in order to determine the appropriate amount of child support. The court will consider multiple factors, including the child’s needs, the parent’s income and expenses, and other relevant circumstances.

After the court has decided on child support, it will issue a court order that sets out the amount of child support that must be paid and any other conditions, such as the payment schedule and any arrears that may be owed. Maintenance conditions are governed by the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998.


Common Challenges When Suing For Child Support

Suing for child support can be challenging for custodial parents, especially if you face resistance from the other parent. Some common challenges include:

  1. Non-payment of child support: Some parents may refuse to pay child support even after a court order has been issued. In such cases, the custodial parent may need to take further legal action, such as garnishing the other parent’s wages or seizing their assets.
  2. Difficulty locating the other parent: In some cases, the custodial parent may have trouble finding the other parent to serve them with a summons. This difficulty can delay the legal process and make it more challenging to obtain child support.
  3. Limited financial resources: Suing for child support can be expensive, and custodial parents with limited financial resources may need help to cover the legal fees. However, resources are available to assist custodial parents with legal costs, such as legal aid clinics and pro bono attorneys.


3 Key Aspects To Remember When Suing For Child Support

Even though suing for child support can be daunting, you should remember a few things while traversing this unchartered landscape. These aspects include:

  1. Be persistent: Suing for child support can be lengthy and frustrating, but persistence is essential. Custodial parents should follow up with their attorney and the court to ensure the legal process progresses accordingly. You should also keep accurate records of all communication and legal documents.
  2. Take advantage of resources: Custodial parents with limited financial resources can use resources such as legal aid clinics and pro bono attorneys. These resources can provide legal assistance at little or no cost.
  3. Remember to focus on your child’s needs: It is vital to remember that the purpose of suing for child support is to provide financial support for your child’s needs. Custodial parents should focus on what their child needs and use the child support funds to provide for their education, health care, and other expenses.


Suing for child support can be challenging, but it is essential to ensure that children receive the financial support they need to thrive. Suppose you are starting the process or wish to progress at a rate conducive to your situation. In that case, it might be best for you to employ the services of an experienced family lawyer who can guide you through this challenging time properly.

Our Burnett Attorneys & Notaries team has extensive experience in these cases. We would gladly put our experience to good use to get the best possible outcome for you and your child. We are here whether you are looking for a court representative or need knowledgeable legal advice. Please feel free to contact us at your convenience.