Child Maintenance: What Is Needed At Maintenance Court In South Africa?


Child maintenance court proceedings can be daunting, especially when you are uncertain about the necessary documentation. Understanding what is needed at the maintenance court in South Africa is crucial for applicants and respondents. So, what is required at maintenance court for child maintenance cases?

In most cases, you will need your ID or a certified copy, child’s birth certificate, proof of monthly income and expenses, three months’ bank statements, three months’ payslips, full name, and proof of address for the responsible person, a detailed list of expenditures, and, if relevant, a copy of your divorce order.

Being a parent comes with its own set of responsibilities, and one of the main ones is supporting your children and ensuring they receive the care they need. In some cases, this support needs to come as a maintenance payment. Whether you are the applicant or the respondent in a child maintenance case, the following up-to-date checklist can empower you in this legal journey.


What Is Needed At Maintenance Court For The Applicant?

Applying for child maintenance involves a meticulous approach. As the applicant, you will need to provide the court with the following documentation when you make the application and on your court appearance day:

  • Your ID book or a certified copy of your ID; if you don’t have a South African ID book, you can provide your passport, driver’s license, and/or immigration permit.
  • The completed maintenance application form (Form J101)
  • Certified copies of the child/ children’s birth certificates
  • Three months’ bank statements
  • Three months’ proof of income and employment
  • A detailed breakdown of monthly expenses related to the child’s well-being, supported by receipts and invoices
  • The full name and details of the person responsible for paying maintenance
  • A copy of your Decree of Divorce (if relevant)


Ensuring that you have all this documentation with you will aid in compiling a solid case while emphasizing the importance of accurate and thorough documentation.


What Is Needed At Maintenance Court For The Respondent?

Responding to a maintenance claim requires careful consideration of the allegations made. It’s crucial to scrutinize claimed expenses and provide documents disputing any inaccuracies. Respondents should submit a detailed response and bring the following documentation to court.

  • Your ID book or a certified copy of your ID; if you don’t have a South African ID book, you can provide your passport, driver’s license, and/or immigration permit.
  • Three months’ bank statements
  • Three months’ proof of income and employment
  • Proof of residential and physical work address
  • List of your expenses
  • A copy of the maintenance court order if there is one against you in another court
  • Birth certificates of your other biological children, apart from the child/ren in question


Ensuring you have all of this documentation will help equip you with the necessary tools to navigate the legal process, providing a fair assessment of your financial capabilities.


What Is Needed At Maintenance Court For an Increase In Maintenance?

When circumstances change and an increase in maintenance is warranted, you can submit a variation application. If you find that you do need to apply for an increase in your child’s maintenance, then you will need to follow the following steps to have the amount changed:

  • You will need to go to the magistrate’s court in the district where you and your child/ren reside to complete an application to increase the maintenance amounts.
  • Complete the relevant application form and submit it to the maintenance officer with a statement including your income and expenses.


What Is Needed At Maintenance Court For A Decrease In Maintenance?

Conversely, suppose you seek to decrease the amount of maintenance you are paying due to changed circumstances, resulting in an inability to pay the required amount. In that case, you must submit a variation application with valid reasons for the decrease. To do this, you will need to follow these steps:

  • You will need to apply to the magistrate’s office that issued you your maintenance order to ask for a decrease or variation of the order.
  • Complete the relevant form and submit it to the maintenance officer.


Ensuring that you provide updated financial information reflecting the changed circumstances is crucial.


Monthly Expenses You Can Include For Child Maintenance

When preparing a case for child maintenance, providing a comprehensive breakdown of monthly expenses is crucial. This breakdown must include costs directly related to the child’s well-being, including the following:

  • Medical expenses from healthcare providers
  • Records of school-related costs, including fees, books, and uniforms
  • Documentation of rent, water, and electricity payments
  • Itemized receipts for groceries and clothing
  • Transportation costs and other travel-related expenses
  • Details of after-school activities with associated expenses


Detailed bank statements reflecting the financial situation further support the applicant’s case. By meticulously outlining these monthly expenses, the applicant paints a clear picture for the court, facilitating a fair assessment of their child’s needs and the required maintenance amount.


Who Has A Responsibility To Pay Maintenance For A Child?

The duty to provide financial support is based on blood relationships, marriage, or adoption. Regardless of the relationship at conception, all parents have a legal obligation to provide their children with financial support. Additionally, grandparents may be required to pay maintenance if the child’s parents cannot.

While both parents are responsible for supporting the child, the court considers each individual’s earnings and proportionately determines their contribution based on the child’s reasonable maintenance needs.

This legal obligation applies regardless of the parent’s marital status, adoption, or family structure, emphasizing the importance of providing essential needs such as housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care.


5 Important Facts About Child Maintenance

Understanding child maintenance is crucial for navigating legal obligations and ensuring your child’s well-being. Here are five key facts to keep in mind:

  • Location Assistance: If the other parent’s whereabouts are unknown, maintenance investigators can assist in tracing them and assessing their financial capabilities.
  • Duration of Responsibility: Parents must contribute to child maintenance until the child becomes self-supporting.
  • Court Determination: The court plays a pivotal role in deciding the appropriate financial support necessary for the child’s well-being.
  • Enforcement Measures: In cases of non-payment, the court can enforce maintenance by deducting from the payer’s salary, seizing assets through auctions, or issuing a warrant of arrest.
  • Adjustable Amounts: The maintenance amount is subject to changes based on evolving financial circumstances, allowing for increases or decreases as warranted.


Navigating maintenance court demands meticulous preparation and a thorough understanding of the required documentation. Whether you find yourself on the side of the applicant or respondent, this guide aims to help empower you with the knowledge needed to navigate child maintenance proceedings successfully. Remember, accurate and comprehensive documentation is the key to ensuring the child’s best interests are met.

At Burnett Attorneys & Notaries, we understand that these applications can seem daunting. If you would like assistance with your child maintenance application or have any questions that you would like help with, please do not hesitate to contact our team. We would gladly assist you in this endeavour.