Maintenance Amendment Act, stricter measures for defaulters
08 Jan 2018
In 2015 the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development welcomed the signing of the Maintenance Amendment Act (Act No.9 of 2015) into law by President Jacob Zuma, with the exception of three sections of the Act which required the making of regulations.
The enhancement of the maintenance system and helping to ensure that the most vulnerable in society, which are women and children, are provided for by those who have an obligation to maintain them, remains a priority of the Department.
With effect from 5 January 2018, Sections 2, 11 and 13(b) of the Amendment Act will be operationalised. These sections provide, amongst others, that parents who default on child maintenance will have their personal information submitted to credit bureaus, and face being blacklisted. This will prevent maintenance defaulters from continuing to receive credit while owing maintenance.
Section 2 of the Amendment Act amends section 7 of the Maintenance Act which deals with the investigation of maintenance complaints. If a parent responsible for maintenance cannot be traced, the court may now issue an order to an electronic communication service provider, e.g. Vodacom, MTN, Cell C or Telkom, to provide the court with their contact information, if any of those service providers have the contact information being sought. This order may only be granted if the court is satisfied that all reasonable efforts to locate the defaulter in question have failed.
The cost implications to obtain the information from the service providers will be funded by the State if it is found that the complainant cannot afford to do so. The court may also order the defaulter to refund the State, the costs incurred, if the State has paid for the provision of information. This amendment will assist in tracing defaulters who often do everything in their power to dodge their maintenance obligations.
The manner in which these new provisions will be applied in practice is regulated by regulations which have been prepared in consultation with the affected stakeholders, most notably the credit bureaus.
The Department is committed to ensuring a speedier and more efficient maintenance system, one that ensures the needs of children affected are put first.
These new provisions constitute part of a wider range of measures introduced by the Department to bring about real change in service delivery to maintenance beneficiaries and ensure access to justice for all, particularly children and women.
Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)