27 Jan

Pay Child Maintenance Or Face Hot Water

Parents who do not pay child maintenance can land in a spot of trouble. This is largely due to the passing of the Maintenance Amendment Act that was signed by President Jacob Zuma in September last year.

What does the Amendment expect when encountering a parent that does not pay their expected child maintenance?

An amendment that was circulated in 2014 called for the blacklisting of maintenance defaulters. Spearheaded by the DA, the ammendment was soon to be quashed by the ANC. However, due to the influence of the DA Women’s Network (DAWN), the ammendment was pushed through again in 2015, and finally signed by the president in 2015. Of the many issues that the ammendment addresses, the most groundbreaking is how the ammendment deals with individuals who fail to uphold their child maintenance agreements. The ammendment requires that parents who fail to pay their child maintenance be blacklisted.

Those that violate the agreement will be recognised by all accredited credit bureaus and they will be unable to receive credit. This is expected to pursuade parents bound to a maintenance agreement to pay their expected maintenance allowance. It may also force those who are unable to pay to declare bankrupcy.

This has been considered a move in the right direction and is celebrated by woman’s rights groups and single mothers throughout the country. The ammendment also makes significant changes to the investigations regarding violations to a maintenance agreement. Changes include the lengthening of the time-frame for investigation, the securing of witnesses for an investigation and how maintenance complaints are lodged, among many other conditions.

It is important that parents uphold their child maintenance agreement, and that the best interests of the children are ensured. It is also important that parents seek to resolve custody agreements and maintenance agreements from out-of-court to save both money and time.

If you require a child custody attorney in South Africa, then make sure you contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys today! 

26 Jan

‘Sleepovers’ With Dad

Psychologist Penelope Leach, whose parenting books have sold millions, says that as a general rule children aged four and under should not be separated from their mother and sleepover at their father, if couples have separated.

She says that ‘sharing’ young children puts ‘adult right’s above ‘children’s rights’ and if young children are separated from their mothers and have to sleep over at their father’s house there is “undisputed” evidence that this “reduces brain development” and creates a tendency toward “unhealthy attachment issues”.

In her new book Family Breakdown she says:
“when people say that it’s ‘only fair’ for a father and mother to share their five-year-old daughter on alternate weeks, they mean it is fair to the adults – who see her as a possession and her presence as their right – not that it is fair to the child”.

“when a lawyer bids for his client to have his baby or toddler to stay overnight each weekend they are both ignoring clear evidence that such overnight separations from the mother are not only usually distressing, but also potentially damaging to the brain development and secure attachment of children under about four”.

She added that the rights of a child must always outweigh those of the parents, and challenged the idea that “equal parenting ought to be equal numbers of days and nights with each parent, without regard with what is best for the individual child. It can be damaging to the child to divide time equally between the parents.”

Her views have angered father’s rights groups and have been called ‘worrying’ and ‘absolute poison’

Read more here: Fathers angered by psychologist’s claims that under-fives are damaged by ‘sleepovers’ with their separated fathers – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent

What do you think? Should children under four not sleep over at their dad’s house if the parents have separated? Is it damaging to kids? In organising shared arrangements are we putting adult’s rights over those of the children?

20 Jan

Rates & Taxes: Collect Debt or Pull Plug?

There are two parties that can essentially ‘pull the plug’ on a tenant or property owner’s electricity. But whether they should disconnect the tenant or owner’s electricity or commence debt collection alone is still a contentious issue.

Should the property owner cut off a home’s electricity if the tenant has not paid rates and taxes? If the owner turns off a home’s electricity it is considered to be taking the law into one’s own hands, and this is illegal. The owner would have to get a court order in order to turn off the electricity for each and every default. This is why it is an easier option to install a pay-as-you-go electricity meter that will automatically turn off the power when the meter limit has been reached. In case of defaults on payments, it is crucial that the property owner acquire the services of a debt collection attorney like Ivan Zartz Attorneys who can follow up on the default in payments by the tenants.

Contact Ivan Zartz Attorneys here. 

Is the municipality within its rights to turn off a home’s electricity if rates and taxes have not been paid? Yes. This includes rates and taxes in arrears even if the current account is up to date. It is completely within their rights. The municipality also consolidates accounts and partial payments of a total amount in arrears will not necessarily necessitate the re-connection of power.

However, they cannot turn off a home’s water. South African’s have a right to 6000 litres of water a month, and it is thereful unlawful to turn off one’s water in the event of defaults on payments. They may turn off the electricity mains if the water account is in arrears over a series of months.

If you require a debt collection attorney, get hold of Ivan Zartz Attorneys today, or find out more about our debt collection practice by clicking here.

20 Jan

Home Owners Can Sell Property From Under Tenants

Tenants beware: the homeowner can sell his property even if it happens to be leased out to a tenant. However, this is good news for those that own a sectional title whom are no longer able to pay off their mortgage, bond or levies.

Levies are paid by the owners of the sectional titles belonging to a scheme. Sometimes an owner is unable to pay the levies and/or pay off his/her mortgage and will then be required to sell. However, what if the sectional title is currently being rented to a tenant? There is nothing that legally prevents the owner from selling their property to another party in such an event.

In this case the new owner is made aware that there are tenants living on their property, and that the tenants have the right to stay on the property until the time that their lease agreement is up. Tenants must ensure that they find out from the new owner whether or not the owner will extend the lease or offer a new lease agreement. It is important that tenants make plans to find alternative accommodation in case the owner intends to move in himself, or if they feel they will be uncomfortable with the new agreement.

The buying of the house by the new owner doesn’t release tenants from their responsibilities either. Any changes to the lease will need to be made by the tenants and the new owners before the sale is made. Tenants are expected to continue paying the lease as normal until their contract period expires, otherwise penalties will be issued. There are no requirements that need to be fulfilled by the old owners after the point of sale.

If you’re an existing home owner or owner to a sectional title, if you’re a tenant, or if you are a head of body corporate of a sectional title, then make sure you acquire the services of a skilled and experienced debt collection and sectional title attorney. Ivan Zartz Attorneys are on hand to assist you under any circumstances. Contact us today!

18 Jan

Can Affairs Decide Child Custody?

The short answer: No.

But there’s more to this question than can be summarized in a simple one-word answer. There are cases whereby a carers bedroom antics can influence one’s role as a caregiver, and may be the cause for the court’s decision to change custody of a child/children.

The court attempts to give custody of the child to the parent who is more likely to show responsible parenting, and affairs can impact this status. The court sometimes sees a parent that goes through numerous affairs as a the less likely custody choice if both parents are able to look after the child.

In The Child’s Best Interests

The court will ultimately make their custody choice when taking into account the best interests of the child. If there is a parent who usually assumes the role of caregiver, then they will likely choose that parent to continue looking after the child, leaving the other parent a supporter through both maintenance and visitation rights.

However, the choice also depends on the environment in which the child is brought up. Which home environment will prove the more loving, supportive and safe for the child is a difficult decision that the courts will have to make. Adultery and continual affairs with different partners is seen as a resounding negative. During litigated cases, a child is usually consulted by a child therapist and questioned whether or not they are embarrassed or confused about the relationships between the caregiver and his/her partners. If they are impacted negatively, then this will usually determine child custody.

The court will also be required to consider the partner of the caregiver. If the partner shows signs of destructive behaviour, or can be in any way associated with the undoing of the child’s secure home life, then this will also impact the court’s decision.

Child custody cases are important because of their impact on the lives of children, so although adultery and affairs are not directly responsible for the choices made in litigated cases, they do influence factors that are important.

If you require a child custody attorney make sure that you get in touch with Ivan Zartz Attorneys today.