DOES COVID-19 AFFECT YOUR MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS, AND CAN I APPLY FOR A REDUCTION THEREOF?
Quintin Badenhorst - Senior Associate.
By now we all have felt the impact of the worldwide pandemic known as Covid-19, either financially, mentally or physically. The national lockdown has left millions of South Africans with no income, a reduced income or unemployed. Expenses remain the same, and not receiving a full income or any income at all, have placed a major strain on many South Africans, especially those who have been ordered to pay maintenance.
The question is: Can I approach the court for assistance in reducing the current maintenance amount payable during the national lockdown? The short answer is no.
It is important to take note that, whilst we are currently still under lockdown, you will not be able to approach the court to apply for a variation of the current maintenance order against you. However, once lockdown has been uplifted, or until new regulations have been Gazetted permitting same under a different level, you will only then be able to approach the relevant court and launch an application for a variation of an existing order should you meet the necessary requirements.
The requirements necessary to be successful with such an application, once permitted to launch same, is that the party who will approach the relevant court has to show that good cause exists, and that there is a material change in circumstances. The applicant should prove the following:
1. a reduction in income; and
2. the inability to pay the current maintenance amount.
It can be argued that any loss of income may qualify as a material change in your circumstances as well as your ability to pay. It should suffice that any loss of income as a result of the national lockdown will be sufficient reason to vary an existing maintenance order.
We advise that you first consult with a legal practitioner for assistance and advice before you approach the maintenance court.