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Can A Parent Claim Maintenance For An Adult Dependent Child – Divorce

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In many broken marriages the parties elect to remain married
until their children have reached the age of majority or left the
matrimonial home to obtain a tertiary education. The reality of the
situation is, however, that many children between the age of 18 and
22 or even older in some instances, are still in the process of
obtaining their tertiary qualification and are financially
dependent on their parents.

In this day and time, it has become an inescapable fact that
marriages often end in divorce, however, the dissolution of a
marriage does not terminate a parent’s common law and statutory
duty to support their minor or major dependent children.

Many of our High Courts have handed out conflicting judgments
when it comes to the issue of whether a parent can claim
maintenance on behalf of a child who has reached the age of
majority but is still financially dependent on his or her

The Supreme Court of Appeal (“the court”) in
Bloemfontein has given clarity to the issue in the case of Z v
and ruled that a parent can claim maintenance for an adult
dependent child from the other parent upon divorce.

In the matter before the court the mother (Appellant) and the
father (Respondent) were married to each other and at the time of
divorce had two major children born of the marriage. The mother
initiated divorce proceedings against the father and claimed,
inter alia, maintenance for the major children. The father
raised a special plea (Locus standi), alleging that the
mother lacked capacity to lodge the claim for maintenance or to
appear on behalf of the major children.

The mother approached the Supreme Court of Appeal, appealing
against an order of the Eastern Cape High Court, relying on section
6 of the Divorce Act which she contended gives her the capacity to
claim maintenance of behalf of the major dependent children.

The Supreme Court of Appeal held that section 6 of the Divorce
Act is clear and should be read as is, as it serves as a safeguard
to the welfare of both major dependent and minor children of a
marriage. The court further stated that there is no requirement for
a major dependent child to be joined as a party to the divorce
proceedings, since the court order will only be binding on the

The court gave an order, were by the appeal was upheld and the
order of the Eastern Cape High Court set aside.

Seeking Professional Legal Assistance

Adams & Adams has extensive experience in dealing with the
full range of family law matters. Our experts have a history of
achieving justice for clients and ensuring that the best interests
of the child are treated as of paramount importance in any matter
concerning children.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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