News

2 May
2024

Your children are technically adults, but they’re still dependents. What now?

Ensuring maintenance for adult children during divorce can be legally complex but vital for custodial parents, typically mothers, facing the financial burden of supporting adult dependents.

By George de Beer

Recently, a significant court case reached the Eastern Cape Division of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Port Elizabeth. This case involved maintenance claims for adult dependent children during divorce proceedings.

The couple, married for over two decades, had two children who were still financially reliant on them. When the marriage dissolved, the mother sought divorce and maintenance for herself and their children. The father argued that the children, now adults, should handle their maintenance claims independently and that the mother lacked the legal standing to represent them.

The legal history on this issue is mixed. Some courts support the custodial parent’s right to claim maintenance, while others argue that adult children should pursue maintenance on their own.

The mother invoked Section 6 of the Divorce Act 70 of 1970, which permits a parent to seek maintenance from the other parent on behalf of a major dependent child during divorce proceedings. The court acknowledged the common scenario where mothers become custodial parents post-divorce, which often places a heavier financial burden on them. This is particularly challenging when they must support adult dependents while seeking employment, whereas fathers typically maintain financial stability.

The Port Elizabeth court affirmed that Section 6 of the Divorce Act indeed allows a parent to claim maintenance for an adult-dependent child in divorce cases. Consequently, the father’s objection was dismissed, and he was instructed to pay maintenance to the mother for the children.

This case underscores the critical role of maintenance payments for custodial parents—often mothers—in supporting dependent children post-divorce. It highlights the necessity for legal protections to safeguard the interests of minors and dependents during divorce proceedings.

It’s crucial to recognise that legal outcomes may vary based on individual circumstances, underscoring the importance of seeking legal counsel to protect all parties involved. Our team of experienced divorce lawyers has handled numerous cases like this successfully. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please contact us for a free initial consultation. Gain the peace of mind of having a leading family law firm on your side.

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2 May
2024

Your children are technically adults, but they’re still dependents. What now?

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