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Enforcing South African Maintenance Orders in other Countries

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Enforcing South African Maintenance Orders in other Countries

This article deals with parents seeking child maintenance from parents residing in foreign countries.

Enforcing South African Maintenance Orders in other Countries

A maintenance Court Order is a legal order issued by a Court that requires one person to provide financial support to another person. This can include payment of child support or spousal support.

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When someone is seeking financial support from a parent living in a foreign country, the Court will decide how much and for how long the parent should make the payments.

The Court considers factors like income and the needs of the people involved. This will be based on the evidence provided and following the law.

The Court can also issue orders to enforce the payment if the person responsible for making the payments fails to do so.

Enforcing Maintenance Orders across International Borders

Understand the legal requirements and procedures for enforcing maintenance Orders in foreign countries, and seek professional legal advice when necessary.

Many parents may find themselves in a situation where they have a maintenance order from a South African Court that requires enforcement against a non-compliant person who resides in a foreign country.

In South Africa, citizens are legally allowed to seek financial support from a parent residing in a foreign country.

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of 1963

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act of 1963 (Act No. 80 of 1963) governs procedures for obtaining maintenance from parents living in foreign countries.

To obtain maintenance for minor children in any foreign country, a South African Court should first make an order for the maintenance of the minor children.

It’s important to note that not all foreign countries are covered under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Orders Act which means that the process of claiming maintenance from a parent living in a non-recognized country may be different and more complex.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ & CD) maintains a list of countries that have a reciprocal agreement with South Africa through its Chief Directorate: International Legal Relations, which governs the enforcement of maintenance orders between these countries.

These countries are:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Cocoa Islands
  • Cyprus
  • Fiji
  • Germany
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Jersey
  • Isle of Man
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Norfolk Island
  • Sarawak
  • Singapore
  • St Helena
  • Swaziland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of 1963 South Africa and the UK

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of 1963 – Signatories include South Africa and the UK

Suppose the foreign country does not have a reciprocal enforcement agreement with South Africa. In that case, the only option is to launch formal proceedings in the Courts of the foreign country.

This can be expensive, take a long time, and may not have a favourable outcome.

Requirements in terms of  “The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of 1963”. The required documents for transmission to the Head Office from South African Courts include the following:

  • Four copies of the court order that a judge has signed.
  • A statement from the person making the complaint or a court official about how much money is owed under the court order.
  • A statement or evidence from the person making the complaint.
  • The current address and place of work of the person being complained against.
  • A picture and description of the person being complained against.
  • Original documents, such as marriage and birth certificates that are mentioned in the statement or evidence from the person making the complaint and have been officially verified.
  • Three copies of all the above documents that a judge has signed.

Furthermore, one must note that the registration of a Court Order is an administrative act that is not open to appeal in a South African Court.

Provided that the prescribed procedures were followed, a registered Court Order remains enforceable until it is set aside by a South African Court.

In conclusion, enforcing Maintenance Orders across international borders can be complex.

The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act provides a framework for enforcing these orders but only applies to certain countries.

It is crucial to be familiar with the legal requirements and procedures involved and to consult with an attorney when necessary.

 

Read more about:

The Divorce Process in South Africa

How to Divorce a Missing Spouse?

 

 

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