Warning to a parent that refuses to pay maintenance.

By Sasha Kadish.

In a recent case ENM v LTM [2023] ZANWHC 34 at [35]-[74], a divorcing couple who were married in community of property signed a settlement agreement. The divorce was granted in 2014, and the agreement was made a court order. The couple had three minor children, and the father, who was an accountant, businessman and sole director of an accounting firm, was ordered to pay maintenance for their upkeep.

However, the father failed to comply with the court order and did not pay maintenance for the minor children. In 2018, a new court order was obtained, ordering the accounting firm owned by the father to pay 75% of the outstanding maintenance. Despite this, the father still did not comply with the court order, forcing the mother to sell immovable property to support the children, and the bank sought foreclosure on a second property.

The mother then brought a contempt of court application against the father. The court found that the father intentionally and willfully disobeyed the orders, severely undermining the best interests of the minor children. As a result, the court sentenced him to three months imprisonment for the crime of contempt of court.

This case serves as a warning to parents who refuse to pay maintenance for their children. The court will not hesitate to imprison a parent who can afford to pay but refuses to do so. Therefore, if you are an aggrieved parent suffering because of a non-paying parent, it is important to pursue all avenues in court to bring the non-paying parent to justice. Remember, the welfare of your children should always be your top priority.

 

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