Good day, my ex husband and I married in 1994 in community of property. We had 2 children, now aged 21 and 18. We divorced in 2002 for “business reasons” and continued to live together. We had another child “out of wedlock” in 2010. We have lived as “husband and wife” until recently and it’s now got to the point where I am wanting to get out of the relationship. He is self employed and has told me he will liquidate himself if I try get maintenance out of him. He wants me to sign the children over to him and walk away which I will not do, obviously. He has a lawyer and has informed me that I “have no rights”. I am aware that I do, but I cannot afford legal counsel. I cannot afford to move out and support my girls sadly. I believe he hasn’t paid rent and the electricity was cut yesterday. He hasn’t bought food or supplies for the girls in months as he claims because of our issues, he hasn’t been able to concentrate on work. My girls are living on toast and eggs if they’re lucky. My entire salary goes on medical aid for the family and school fees with a bit left over for toiletries and food. I feel completely helpless as I simply cannot afford even a one bedroom cottage and I have no guarantees that he will contribute. Please advise. Many thanks
Of course you have rights over your children. That he has a lawyer and you do not is utterly irrelevant. Section 24 of the Guardianship Act regulates assignment of guardianship of children. It is not just a question of sign the children over to me. No, it does not work like that. The High Court is the upper guardian of children, and the assignment of guardianship must be brought to the attention of the High Court where the children resides. I think he is employing intimidation tactics.
On issue of maintenance, parents, whether living together, divorced, separated, must support the financial needs of their children until they become self supporting. This is non-negotiable. Court look at the financial means of the parent in order to make appropiate award. No lawyer is needed unless you want to, and the process is simple. You only need to approach the Maintenance(Magistrate’s) court in the area where you reside with your children and apply. The court clerks can be very helpful in this regard.
It is a criminal offence not to pay maintenance once court makes order. As a matter of fact, if he fails to pay maintenance, the court can deduct the money from his account, can even auction his car and can issue a warrant for his arrest.
Because you are divorced, you cannot claim maintenance from him.