15 Sep

Can A Child’s Tertiary Education Be Included In Maintenance?

Education is considered a human right, just like food, shelter and social involvement. But what are the considerations regarding tertiary education and a child maintenance agreement? Is a parent whose duty is to pay regular maintenance also expected to pay for tertiary education?

A Shift In Duty 

When paying for a child’s tertiary education, it most likely means that the child has reached an age where he/she is considered an adult. As an 18-year-old, the child may be an adult, but is not yet considered self-supporting. When unable to look after themselves (due to financial constraints), it is the ultimately the child’s responsibility to claim maintenance from the parent in question. The spouse who may have had custody of the child is no longer expected to receive the money with regards to the wellbeing and support of the child.

Commitment To Education 

Although the child now receives maintenance from their parents toward living expenses and tertiary education, the parent is only expected to pay for the education as long as the parent has the financial means. Not only does the parent have responsibilities, but the child is expected to pass subjects at university. When he/she shows trends of failure or negligence, then it is no longer the parent’s responsibility to pay for tertiary education.

What Should You Pay For? 

It is parents’ duty to care for an adult child when they are unable to do so themselves. Children studying in a university are most often unable to provide for themselves, and therefore parents may have to fit the bill for tertiary fees, textbooks, food, accommodation, and transport.

A parent is no longer expected to provide maintenance for a child when the child is deemed at such an age and capacity to find a job for themselves, and therefore ensure their own livelihoods are taken care of.

For more information on child maintenance, child custody, and any other divorce or child-related legal query, contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today!

 

30 Aug

Who Has Responsibility Of Supporting a Child When Parents Cannot?

Sometimes both the custodian parent of the child as well as the parent responsible for the payment of maintenance do not have the means to support a child. There can be financial reasons for the limitations, as well as numerous other reasons. If the child’s parents cannot look after the child, who does this responsibility pass on to? Take a look at the list of people who take responsibility toward looking after the child.

Grandparents 

Both the maternal and paternal grandparents are responsible for supporting a child if neither parent is able to do so. Often all four grandparents can be responsible for contributing financially toward the child, and at least one can be found responsible for the custodianship over the child. Alternatively, if a custodial parent is not receiving maintenance from the other parent, then he/she can claim maintenance from that parent’s parents.

Siblings 

In many cases, siblings are found to be custodians of children, responsible for the upbringing of their brother or sister. This is not uncommon, and legally siblings are responsible for their other siblings’ upbringing if parents, grandparents, and stepparents are unable to do so.

However, this is only considered an option when siblings are adults and have the financial capabilities toward supporting a child.

Image result for child and older siblings

Steparents 

Stepparents are not responsible for the upbringing of the child as the parents themselves. By marrying their spouse who has maintenance or custodial duties, these duties cannot legally fall upon the stepparents too. However, there have been instances whereby parents have taken stepparents to court and the stepparents were ordered by judges to pay maintenance toward their stepchildren.

The above cases, however, are very rare, and only apply when the stepparent has the overwhelming financial security and the capability to look after their stepchildren without much effort.

As you can see, there are many people who are found responsible for the upbringing of a child when his/her parents are unable to do so. If you require legal assistance regarding the custody, support, and maintenance of children, don’t hesitate to contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys at the soonest opportunity.

17 Aug

Are You Expected To Pay Maintenance If Prevented From Seeing Your Child?

This is a question often asked by those following a child custody case. The parent who only has visitation rights is sometimes restricted or even prevented from seeing their child following traumatic instances of emotional conflict between the two parties. If a father is prevented from seeing his child, should he really have to continue paying maintenance?

Please remember: By not paying maintenance, you are only harming your child and not the parent with custody and care obligations towards the child! 

Separating Child Custody From Maintenance 

It is important that you understand this important principle before you stop paying maintenance; child custody and visitation agreements are considered separate from that of a maintenance agreement.

Under no conditions is a parent obligated to stop paying child maintenance. Child maintenance is arranged so that the custodian or carer of the child has the financial means of providing food, education, and medical expenses for the child. Additionally, you cannot stop paying maintenance even in the event that the other parent prevents you from having contact with the child. If your ex-spouse remarries, has more children or finds themselves a new job, you are still expected to pay monthly maintenance according to the maintenance contract.

Here are a few things to keep in mind in the event of restricted visitation and contact, or the restructuring of the maintenance agreement:

Amending Maintenance Order 

If you cannot afford the maintenance for your child, then you may begin the procedure of amending your maintenance order. This can be done with the assistance of a divorce lawyer, or you can make the application yourself at the Family Court.

Restricted Visitation and Contact 

Your right to visit your child, or have your child stay with you on certain days, is outlined within the child custody agreement. A breach of a lawfully authored agreement is illegal, and a parent who prevents their child from seeing their mother/father may have their ability to care for the child questioned.

The best thing to do in the event of visitation restrictions or prevention is to contact a child custody attorney. With their consultation and assistance, you will be able to take the matter to court or begin a remediation procedure so that you may spend valuable time with your child again.

Contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today if you are intent on spending more time with the children you love!

08 Aug

Introducing Children To A New Partner

The divorce process is traumatic and complicated, however, life moves on. After what could be a messy child custody battle or a simple matter of ‘moving on’ parents often find other partners with which they want to share their lives.

This can be a very awkward time for both you, as a parent, and your children, and introducing your kids to the ‘newfound love’ can lead to them experiencing a number of emotions. There are, therefore, a number of measures involved during this introduction, both of the psychological and legal sort. Take a look:

Remain Professional 

A parent must remain professional as well as amicable when introducing a new partner to the family. The same goes for those parents whose ex-spouse has now introduced a new partner. There are many instances of parents returning to courts at the instance of one of the parent’s new romance. This reignites a pointless legal battle because they believe that the new partner may negatively influence their children.

Both the parent in a new relationship, as well as the other parent, must respect their ex-spouse enough to amuse their concerns and/or allow the ex-spouse the freedom to date other people. What needs to remain of utmost importance is that any new decisions are made in the best interests of the children. This means that the new partner should not stay overnight with the children for at least a couple of months into what has to be a strong and committed new relationship. If a parent is only having casual relationships with one or multiple partners, it is best to not involve the children in any way whatsoever.

Emotional Sensitivity 

When a parent is introducing his/her children to a new partner, it is important that the first couple of visits are incredibly casual and quick. All visitation should occur away from the home in an environment in which the children are comfortable, such as at a restaurant. Don’t enquire from your children what they think of the new partner at this stage.

Once there is a moderate amount of affinity between the new partner and the children, then the partner may be allowed home visits. Be very careful when allowing new partners to sleep over during stays with the children. Be sure to consult the children at this stage. Find out what they think of your new partner, and encourage a prosperous relationship. To those parents whose ex has introduced a new partner; do not feel threatened by the introduction. Children understand that there is no replacing you as their parent, and the new partner may actually be beneficial to all parties involved.

If you are concerned about your children’s health during the stage whereby new family members are introduced, feel free to contact a mental health expert (such as a registered child psychologist) and/or a child custody attorney.

If you are looking for a child custody attorney in South Africa, don’t hesitate contacting Ivan Zartz Attorneys as soon as possible.

04 Aug

Who’s The Baby Daddy? Paternity Disputes Spotlight

The issue may be made light of in a number of Hollywood films and modern pop culture, but realistically it is a traumatising experience for all parties involved. We’re talking about paternity disputes and the legal procedures during litigated cases, and it’s not as light a subject as we make it.

Many women in South Africa fall pregnant with only an idea of who the father may be. In these instances, one of two situations may occur. These will be discussed below. However, these situations exclude instances when the mother was married during conception, in which case the father is believed by the court to be the husband unless proved otherwise through blood tests.

“I’m Not The Baby’s Father” 

Any man who had sexual intercourse with a woman at the time of conception is believed to be the father of the baby. This is discussed in detail in the Children’s Act, but ultimately it is the assumed father’s responsibility to prove to the court that there is  reasonable doubt toward the mother’s claim. If he does dispute the findings (the model case of paternity disputes) then further action is taken by the court.

At this point, the maintenance officer may approach the party in question and request that he take a paternity test at a clinic with the mother and the baby. This only gets considered if the man has provided the court with the evidence indicating reasonable doubt. If the party disagrees to blood tests, the court does not have the authority to enforce these terms, and the man’s legal credibility is threatened. If blood tests are taken, and the man is indeed the father, the court has the authority to instruct the man to pay maintenance.

“I’m The Daddy!”

In these cases, the case is not considered a paternity dispute and the process is pretty straightforward. The father is provided maintenance terms by the court. No tests are requested, leaving any alternative outcomes forgotten until brought up at a later stage or if at all.

In any event, women are advised to approach maintenance court with their grievances so that the matter can reach a settlement. A wiser choice would be to approach maintenance court with the assistance of a family law attorney.

For the assistance of one of South Africa’s finest family law attorneys, specialising in cases of child custody in particular, make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today.