concern many parents have revolves around the existence of maintenance orders
from a South African court which requires enforcement against a non-compliant
person who resides in a foreign country.
African law allows its citizens to claim maintenance from a parent living in a
foreign country. The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Act 80 of
1963 is a piece of legislation which regulates foreign maintenance processes.
To obtain maintenance for minor children in any foreign country it is advisable
that an order for the maintenance of the minor children has first been made by
a South African court.
important to note that not all foreign countries are recognised under the
Reciprocal Enforcement of Orders Act. Chief Directorate: International Legal
Relations in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
(DoJ&CD) has a list of proclaimed countries. This means such countries have
a special arrangement with South Africa whereby maintenance orders granted in
one country can be enforced in another.
The following documents where
applicable must be transmitted to Head Office from our courts:
four certified copies of the provisional court order;
an affidavit by the complainant or an officer of the court as
to the amount of arrears due under the order;
the deposition or evidence of the complainant;
physical, and or working address of the defendant;
a photograph and description of the defendant;
the original exhibits (marriage certificate, birth
certificate, photographs etc.) referred to in the complaint’s deposition or
evidence duly endorsed as prescribed/affidavit;
three certified copies of the
documents referred to in (b) and (c) above and in the event of the High Court,
four copies as well as an additional copy of the court are required.
Countries recognised under the
Reciprocal Enforcement of Orders Act:
Canada, Cocoa (Keeling) Islands, Cyprus, Fiji, Germany, Guernsey (Bailiwick of
Hong Kong), 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 and Zimbabwe.
foreign country in question does not have a reciprocal enforcement agreement
with the Republic, the second option is to launch formal proceedings in the
courts of the foreign country based on an already existing maintenance order.
This option in most cases, tends to be an expensive process, takes an
indeterminable amount of time and doesn’t always render favourable results.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)