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Children suing for maintenance

I recently had yet another case dealing with children over 18 suing their parents for maintenance. It is becoming quite common these days especially with the recession and more and more children being forced to study after they finish school. It is basically a must for children to have to study these days post high school for them to get anywhere in life.

This particular case took place in Stellenbosch at the maintenance court. I do not often go to Stellenbosch these days but it was quite an enjoyable experience. It is a beautiful town and also where I studied law and lived for a few years.

In this case my client had to fly from a different province just to attend the maintenance hearing. Both he and his ex-wife had been subpoenaed by their two children to attend the hearing. Both children were studying at Stellenbosch University. The daughter was 18 and the son 21.

My client had recently stopped paying money into his son’s account after his son had turned 21. He was of the opinion that the son could find part-time employment. This was one of the main reasons for the two children bringing the maintenance application.

Our argument was that the mother of the children lived close to Stellenbosch, in the Strand, and there was no reason for them to have accommodation in Stellenbosch, and that to save money they could live with their mother and drive in to varsity every day. As is quite usual for a maintenance case we were alleging their expenses to be exorbitant.

My client’s son was studying theology and claimed to be earning R100 per month doing work at the local church as a part-time job. There appeared to be bad-blood between all the parties, as both ex-spouses had remarried. The children had even taken on the surname of their stepfather.

The children were represented by a local attorney from Stellenbosch. We further argued that the children could cut down on many of their other expenses, such as their grocery and entertainment expenses, their clothing expenses and we also argued that it was not necessary for their old motor vehicles to be insured.

The other side no doubt had their own arguments on how maintenance should work. They argued for example that my client need not drive an expensive motor vehicle. His monthly instalment on his vehicle was over R7000.

At the end I achieved a good result for my client. The other side could not prove a lot of their expenses and we showed that they could cut down here and there. Children do not understand that after high school it is also their duty to work even if only part-time, and if a parent supports him/her, he/she is really doing so out of love for the child.

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