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Legislation: Attach pensions of 'delinquent dads' – SALRC

The SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has recommended that the Maintenance Act be amended to allow for attachment of a portion of pension benefits of child maintenance defaulters. ‘It is the commission’s view that the Act should regulate the issue of future maintenance and give the maintenance court the power to make an order for future maintenance,’ according to its discussion paper, titled The Review of the Maintenance Act. ‘To make this possible the definition of ‘maintenance order’ in the Act needs … to include a provision that should a maintenance debtor resign, retire, or be dismissed from his or her employment or is due to receive any lump sum from any source, while he or she still has a duty to maintain, then a pension benefit or that lump sum may be attached to secure future maintenance.’ The discussion paper pointed out that High Courts granted orders for future maintenance despite the Maintenance Act currently not prescribing this. ‘It is encouraging to note that the courts have taken a lead in rectifying this anomaly in the legislation,’ said the document. ‘In all cases, the maintenance courts had been unable to assist the applicants for maintenance, mostly because the Act is silent or does not regulate future maintenance, but only deals with arrears. But, however noble the endeavors of the courts, a legislative prescription is required to ensure that, first, there is consistency in the orders made by the various courts for future maintenance; and secondly, to ensure that the rights of beneficiaries are protected from errant maintenance debtors – who would otherwise squander the money that should be earmarked for the future maintenance of children.’ The report notes the public has until 30 June to comment on the proposals.

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