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penalties if you don’t pay child maintenance

The enforcement of maintenance payments is a highly problematic area. Often people liable to pay maintenance either refuse or simply neglect to fulfil their obligation.

When one parent fails to comply with the terms of a maintenance order, and the order remains unsatisfied for a period of 10 days, the other parent may apply to the maintenance court where the respondent is resident for:

  • authorisation to issue a warrant of execution;
  • an order for the attachment of emoluments (garnishee order); or
  • an order for the attachment of debt.

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 a particular payment in accordance with a maintenance order is guilty of a criminal offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment.

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Author – Jessica Gooding

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