When the law is self defeating......

South Africa maintenace law
As life has gone by, I have witnessed a few occasions when the law has been used for something it was not meant to be. Then there are those that say that "the law is an ass".

Well here we go... lets discuss what an ass it really is.

My ex husband and I were divorced ten years ago. He was very obstructive during the divorce. The divorce finally went through because he failed to act timeously to a court directive. Because he was unavailable, the court decreed that child maintenance be dealt with by the CSA (Child support agency).

For a short time following the divorce my ex husband flapped in and out of my children's lives, forgetting their birthdays, and clumsily endangering their lives occasionally along the way.

In 2003 he disappeared, and I mean disappeared, one minute he was there and the next he was gone and no-one knew where he was. My family moved away without knowing where he was or what he was doing.

In 2005 I received a phone call asking me where we were and I explained to him that we had moved to Scotland, but could not tell him where because he had disappeared. It transpired that he had travelled to Sierra Leone. Shortly afterwards he returned to our native South Africa because his mother had passed away.

I next heard he was trotting around Africa, from Uganda to Zimbabwe and also the DRC. he was a travelling Medic and paid to travel to these outlandish and somewhat dangerous places. He never paid a penny of child support and never sent any birthday or Christmas cards.

In 2006, I took my children on a holiday to South Africa and took them to visit their paternal grandfather. It turned out that their father was staying in his house "looking after Grandad".

When I asked him if he was ever going to provide for his children, he told me that South African exchange control regulations prevented him from doing so. I wasn't sure he was right, but had a lot more to deal with, so waited til I was back in the UK before trying to check up on this. It turned out that maintenace could be paid to me in the UK particularly if paid through a maintenance court.

Despite asking him to provide a breakdown of finances to deal with child support he wavered between a pile of excuses and aggressive intimidation.

Finally, I decided Scotland had served it's dues and it was time for my family to return back to South Africa. I started selling off work equipment and liquidating my finances. I went to South Africa and opened bank accounts, found a home and instructed an advocate in order to pursue him for child maintenance. I then returned to the UK, to close up everything and wait for my children's final exam results to be released.

During the summer, while we waiting for the exam results, we went to London to apply for passports for the children. The South African embassy refused to issue a passport although the children's father had signed the form months before. They wanted a letter of consent. he has refused to give it and here is why the law is an ass...................

I need to be living in South Africa permanently for my local South African court to have jurisdiction in the child maintenance matter. I have a home, a job and have liquidated my life in the UK in order to take my kids home. But because he refuses to consent to the issue of his children's passports, they wont issue them.

Now get this.I have applied for passports in order to return the children to the jurisdiction in which their father lives. The law requiring both parental signatures is designed to prevent a parent removing (abducting) the children from another parents jurisdiction without their consent, NOT to prevent the return of said children.

My ex husband who has never paid a penny of child support in over ten years, is now using the law that is designed to prevent child abduction, to prevent the return of his children to his jurisdiction in order to avoid a child maintenance matter.

What is so sickening, that despite knowing this, the South African Authorities including the embassy in London, not only have done nothing about this, but in fact have encouraged and supported his behaviour. So if you're a recalcitrant non paying South African father, run away to South Africa abandoning your children elsewhere in the world and then refuse to consent to the issue of passports to return your children home. The South African government will make sure you not only dont have to pay child support, but dont care about the minor children you have effectively abandoned and left destitute abroad and will use every piece of legislation in their power to prevent the return of thse children to your jurisdiction thus protecting you from your obligation to support them.

Anyone wanting indepth details about this case please send me an email

Ruthie Richards-Hill

Ruth, a free range human being and a middle aged mum of three adult children and very young grandmother to two little girls, is a glass artist, and a digital strategist, She retains the right to change her mind about anything and believes in a compassionate approach to most things, you can contact her using the contact page on this blog.

1 comment:

  1. My daugher's dad lives in Botswana Africa, but I was pregnant with his baby when he was here on a college grant to attend the University of Arkansas. I have had no luck trying to collect any child support. She is 8 years old.