Over the weekend I received an email from a single mom with maintenance related questions. I am very grateful and humbled to admit that my life has changed so much and the maintenance money isn’t an absolute necessity that I have to have. The emails between this mom and I, did however get me to think and I could almost say relive some of those anxious and infuriating emotions.
My experience in the maintenance court:
Some of the details of our emails I would like to relay here:
In my initial reply I mentioned that the maintenance court is a lengthy process. I mentioned that the more information you have – contact numbers, addresses: work address, home address, girlfriend’s address – the better your chances of the person receiving the summons.
The delay in receiving the summons from a person in Pretoria to another person in Pretoria is between 4-6 weeks. If the person does not receive the summons, he will not know to be in court. And you will need to have him summoned again. This is a torturous waste of time that I have experiences twice in my life (consecutively)
In the event that the Sperm-Donor (SD) skipped a payment and you want to make the court aware of this or sue him for the outstanding. You will need to wait until he has skipped the maintenance payments for a minimum of two full months before the court takes you seriously. This was how it was in my case at least!
When I opened the case against my SD, he was summons to court, on the first encounter he was asked whether he will represent himself, whether he will appoint a lawyer and that he can apply for legal aid. We were then given another date to be back in court again (10-14 days later). It is an up and down, back and forth kind of experience.
Over the 3 months of going back and forth to the court, he managed to pay the maintenance and a little bit towards the outstanding maintenance. On the day that we were about to set a date for the start of the trial, the court manager told me that the best thing for me to do was to withdraw the lawsuit because it looked good on paper that he had paid the maintenance for three consecutive months. His legal representative drew up a document advising how he would settle the outstanding money.
What I am trying to say, is that the court doesn’t just garnish salaries left, right and center. They follow a procedure, covering all grounds. I think for the most part, all I am doing is to keep a paper trail; the SD is bound to start running out of excuses at some point in time.
The maintenance court experience is at no time fun. It is hard! If you are up for it, my best advice would be, do not hold your breath thinking things will work out in a month or two. Find an alternative way of managing financially. I have learnt not to bargain on that money, if I get the maintenance, bonus I settle debt, I splurge a bit on things we don’t really need, I save that money. I don’t bargain on it and I certainly do not include it when working on my budget.
** What I haven’t had time to deal with emotionally or physically is for the SD to have skipped the maintenance payment and the portion of the outstanding money he was suppose to pay at the beginning of September. So the question in my thoughts is simple – Am I up for this? **