In a divorce where minor children are involved, the one area of the divorce settlement is a maintenance agreement, wherein the amount of maintenance and the method of payment is described.
Maintenance calculations are often hotly debated after the final divorce and as time goes on owing to the fact that situations change, be it with a minor child leaving home, a change in living arrangements or a change in financial circumstances of either party.
Essentially, child maintenance is calculated as a percentage of each parents income divided proportionately to meet the children’s needs.
Lets us use an example of a woman who has custody of 2 children earning R10 000/month and a father who earns R15 000 per month. The father does not have custody of any other children.
The children’s needs are taken into account as a percentage of the total household expenditure divided proportionately. 2/3 of the rent, 2/3 of the food cost, 2/3 of the cleaning cost etc.
Let us assume that the total cost of living in the custodial parents home is R9 000. That amount would be two thirds apportioned to the children giving us a total of R6 000.
Then we take the both parents income, add it together and then divide the individual parents income by the total to give a proportion of the children’s costs to be paid by each parent.
In this example the mother or custodial parent would be responsible for 40% of the childrens costs and the father 60%.
The maintenance order would be made against the father, who would now be responsible to pay R3 600 in maintenance to the children’s mother. The method of payment, be it by deposit into an account or payment of certain things like medical aid etc, will be specified along with the date it is due.
The countries maintenance courts are very busy due to the parents being unable to agree on the amount of maintenance and the calculation of living expenses and unfortunately, the children are most likely to suffer the consequences of bickering parents who waste untold amounts of money in legal fees fighting over a few Rand. The calculation is very simple and straight forward, parents need to be honest with one another and they will all save a lot of money and enjoy better relationships with their children.