President Jacob Zuma signed the Maintenance Amendment Act into law recently after it was passed by the National Council of Provinces.
The aim of the Act is to improve the maintenance system.
The Department of Justice said the amendment of the Maintenance Act 1998 (Act No. 99 of 1998) has been its major priority as it will ensure that parents take responsibility for the upbringing of their children.
“The new Act is part of a wider range of measures introduced by the Department to bring about real change in service delivery to maintenance beneficiaries and ensure access to justice for all, particularly children and women.
“As a department, we pride ourselves on the interventions that we continue to initiate in order to improve maintenance systems and ensure that children are taken care of,” said the department.
Among others, the act seeks to further regulate the lodging of the complaints relating to the maintenance and the jurisdiction of the maintenance courts, to investigate maintenance complaints and securing of witnesses for purposes of maintenance enquiry.
It will also further regulate maintenance enquiries in order to make a provision for the granting of the interim maintenance orders, to regulate the circumstances in which the maintenance orders may be granted by default and to grant of cost orders.
Further the Amendment Act states that if the person from whom maintenance is sought cannot be traced, the court can grant an order directing electronic communication service providers to provide the court with contact information.
This direction may only be used if the court is satisfied that all reasonable efforts to locate the person in question have failed.
In addition to this, if a person has defaulted on paying maintenance, their personal details will be submitted to all credit bureaus.
This will prevent maintenance defaulters from continuing to receive credit while owing maintenance.