Maintenance is not a Wish List!

Dealing with children’s maintenance matters is not as easy as most people presume it to be! Often I am called to represent a client in a maintenance matter where the primary caregiver has subpoenaed my client to court in order to obtain a maintenance order alternatively an increase in maintenance.

It is usual to find me sitting on the benches in the halls of maintenance court attempting to negotiate a maintenance matter with the primary caregiver or the attorney representing the primary caregiver.

As is required I am furnished with a list of expenses that the primary caregiver intends on using to justify the maintenance amount claimed or the increase required. Normally I receive the list of expenses, as my client hands me the documents the maintenance court has served on him or the primary caregiver hands the expense list to me before the matter is called at court.

In maintenance matters pertaining to children the first step is always to determine the reasonable need of the child/children on a monthly basis. Although it is not a hard and fast rule, in practice the child/children’s share of common expenses is often determined by allocating one part per child and two parts to a grownup / older child.

The words reasonable needs are highlighted because primary caregivers tend to miss the point in maintenance matters and furnish an expense list which in fact is a wish list of what the primary caregiver wishes the expenses to be in order to justify an absurd maintenance claim.

Maintenance is definitely, Not a Wish List! A court will look at the reasonable financial needs of the child/children involved and further will take into account the standard of living the child/children are accustomed too.

Determining the reasonable need of the child/children is not what the primary caregiver wishes the need of the child/children to be, but what the need in fact is at the time of approaching maintenance court. The list of expenses used to justify the child/children’s need also have to be substantiated with documentary proof in the form of vouchers.

Maintenance is not a Wish List and attempting to rely on inflated expenses only frustrates the process of obtaining a maintenance order or an increase in maintenance.

It is imperative for one to understand the requirements that are to be met in order to obtain a maintenance order and to obtain the services of an attorney who understands the law pertaining to maintenance. An attorney is not able to go outside of the law and fetch you a maintenance court order based on a wish list of expenses to justify your calculation of the child/children’s need.

Parents must understand and appreciate that it is their duty as the child’s/children’s parents to support their child/children and that the obligation to maintain the child/children is reciprocal and the reciprocity is dependent on each parent’s affordability.