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What Happens When A Parent Fails To Pay Maintenance?

Subject to the defence that failure to make a payment in terms of a maintenance order is due to lack of means, a person who fails to make payment in accordance with a maintenance order is guilty of contempt of a Court Order and may suffer one or more of the following consequences:

  1. The defaulter could be blacklisted.
  • The defaulter’s personal information can be handed over to the credit bureau, thus preventing any further credit being granted to this person whilst they owe maintenance (the maintenance defaulter becomes blacklisted).
  1. Garnishee orders can be authorised.
  • The complainant could obtain court order to have defaulter’s debtors pay the complainant or compel the defaulter’s employer to pay a portion of the defaulter’s salary into the complaint’s account.
  1. The complainant can have a warrant of execution issued against the defaulter.
  • The warrant once issued, will enable the sheriff to attach and sell the defaulter’s property in execution. The monies realised in such sale in execution will be paid to the complainant in settlement of outstanding maintenance amounts.
  1. The complainant can claim against the defaulter’s pension benefit.
  • The complainant can approach the Court to grant them consent to claim maintenance arrears from the pension fund. It should be noted that this is often used as a last resort.
  1. The complainant could lay criminal charges against the defaulter.
  • Defaulters may face jail time not exceeding three (3) years and/ or may be fined (which money goes to the state).
  • It should be noted that it is advisable not to enforce this kind of consequence as imprisonment may lead to the defaulter losing their employment, therefore making them unable to pay the outstanding maintenance.

It is important to therefore, ensure that you do not fall behind with maintenance payments and if it happens that you fall behind, it is equally important that you convey your situation to the other party (being the complainant). Do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance.


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