WINDHOEK - Expectant mothers may claim for contribution from the father towards pregnancy-related expenses before the child is born, if amendmends to this effect to the Maintenance Act of 2003 go through.
This will also provide for a refund should paternity be disproved at a later stage.
This is important for the well-being of the child, as a contribution to expenses such as ante-natal care and vitamins could affect the health of the unborn child, the Minister of Justice Sakeus Shanghala said while providing clarity to New Era on what the Maintenance Amendment Bill, 2018 will address.
“The Maintenance Act, 2003 will be amended to make it clear that contributions to pregnancy-related expenses may be claimed by the mother before the child is born, and to provide for a procedure for refunds should paternity be disproved at a later stage,” stated Shanghala.
Also, with regard to outstanding maintenance payments, Shanghala stated that a maintenance order may demand the attachment of any emoluments (salary or fee etc.) in future owing or accruing to the defendant, which order shall authorise any employer of the defaulter, or any person who in terms of a contract is obliged to make periodical payment to the caregiver, to deduct from the defendant’s emoluments and to make on his or her behalf such payments as specified in the order.
Cabinet approved in principle, the Maintenance Amendment Bill, 2018 and refer the Bill to the Cabinet Committee of Legislation (CCL) for further scrutiny and appropriate recommendations to Cabinet before its tabling in the National Assembly.
New Era last month reported views of some women who claim that the justice system fails their children, especially when it comes to the verification of the financial status and the actual earnings of these men who exploit legal loopholes.
The disgruntled women who spoke to New Era said this results in the children getting pennies for their maintenance from these dodgy, absentee fathers.
In addition, the Maintenance Act will address paternity testing, parents who go into hiding, children in the care of others, child neglect and adult offspring failing to maintain their parents where not clearly addressed in the Maintenance Act, no 9, 2003. New Era understands that this will pave way for the introduction of clauses and enforce action against culprits.
Shanghala explained that the legal duty to maintain has been worded clearer to ensure that the relationships that carry a duty to maintain are distinct. Where a person has a legal duty to maintain another person, regardless of the nature of the relationship which creates the duty to maintain, that duty extends to the other living ancestors, descendants and collateral relatives in terms of the common law modified by section 106 of the Child Care and Protection Act, 2015 (Act No3. of 2015) or any subsequent legislation promulgated to clarify or amend this duty, and must not be interpreted so as to derogate from any law, including the common law, relating to the duty of persons to maintain other persons.
Shanghala stated that several other changes were also brought about to bring the Maintenance Act, 2003 in line with the Child Care and Protection Act, 2015. He said the improved maintenance system will be enforced by designated magistrates and maintenance officers.