The Maintenance Amendment Act No 9 of 2015 (the Act) was signed by the Presidency for promulgation on 9 September 2015, amending certain existing clauses and incorporating some new clauses to the existing Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 (the current Act) It has been felt for a long time that review was needed in order to improve and fix various loopholes that existed in the current previous act.

Amendments and improvements are said to be as follows:

Section 6 relating to the jurisdiction of Maintenance Courts has been extended. This allows the person applying for maintenance to apply either where they reside or where they work, rather than where they are domiciled as is currently been required.

Investigation of maintenance complaints will be more effective by empowering the Court to direct certain service providers to disclose information about interested parties. Examples of this can be their residential address, should other efforts to procure such information not deliver results.

Maintenance officers are currently empowered to issue subpoenas to ensure the attendance of interested parties at the proceedings in order to give evidence or to produce documents. Section 9 has now been amended. A maintenance officer can be granted the power to subpoena the beneficiary of a maintenance order as well, for example, in instances where the respondent is applying for the reduction or discharge of any maintenance order.

An additional clause has been inserted in section 10, hereby placing a duty on the Maintenance Court to conclude maintenance enquiries speedily by enabling the maintenance officers to make interim orders, pending the finalization of matters.

Section 26 currently provides for the enforcement of maintenance and other orders. A new provision has been inserted in this section enabling the reporting of the defaulter to one of various credit bureaus. This means that as soon as a complaint of non-payment is made, the defaulter’s personal details has to be submitted to the relevant credit bureau. This step is vital as it will prevent maintenance defaulters from incurring additional debt whilst in arrears with maintenance.

These are merely highlights of some of the amendments. The Maintenance Amendment Act, as stated above, has been signed off by the President, but this Amendment Act is not yet in force. Thus, the effectiveness of the amendments still remain to be determined. Hopefully the amendments will be a much needed improvement and ensure a fair outcome for all parties involved.

Any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact us or make an appointment to visit our team to discuss matters further.