Our expert says:
Family law expert
The child is entitled to reasonable maintenance to provide for housing, clothing, medical, dental and healthcare as well as education and training and, where applicable, recreation.
What is viewed as reasonable depends on the circumstances such as the position of the family, the child's health, and, as regards to education and training, the child's aptitude and how well the child has done in his/her studies. The standard of living, taken together with factors such as aptitude and interest, for example, determines whether expenses for recreation, non-vocational trainig and vocational training at secondary and tertiary level will be awarded. In terms of the Maintenance Act a maintenance order may include an order which the court thinks fit for the payment of medical expenses, including an order that the person who has to maintained must be registered as a dependant on the medical scheme to which the liable person belongs.
As was pointed out in the case of Prophet v Prophet, "need" embraces more than "merely such as is necessary for the support of life". The criterion for the "best" or true "interests" of the child is often invoked. Although parent and child has reciprocal obligation of support, the concept of "necessasities" is given a far wider interpretation when it comes to the support of children than in respect of the support of a parent.
The level at which is provided is usually determined by the standard of living of the parents and their standing in the community. It is they who determine the standard of living of a child. However, in calculating how much maintenance a child should receive the approach of first estimating what the liable parent can afford to contribute and then adapting the child's needs accordingly is incorrect. In addition to food, clothing and accommodation the provisions of the amenities of electricity, water, linen, cutlery and laundering should be taken into account. In order to fulfil their obligations to support children, parents must use their income and also, if necessary, their capital.
As mentioned above, one of the three prerequisites of the duty to support is that there be adequate resources on the part of the person who is called upon to provide support. It follows that as long as a parent is genuinely indigent and unable to word, for example for health reasons, he or she is not under an obligation to support the children. Where a parent is able to provide onlly limited support or a limited contribution to the child's support and any particular requirement of the child is beyond the parent's financial means, the parent is not obliged and is under no duty to provide the requirement concerned.
A father is presumed to be capable of supporting his child until the contrary is proven.
Therefore it is my opinion, that how the court determines the amount of maintenance to be paid is based upon the best interest of the minor child, the financial position of the father and third, the standing of the family in the community.
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