Pretoria - A divorced father who stopped certain payments towards his two children – both over 18 – was ordered to pay his ex-wife R166 000 within 30 days.
If he fails to do this, the sheriff of the court is entitled to take possession of his assets to sell in order to recoup the money.
He stopped the payments because he felt that his daughter did not do as well as he wanted her to do in her tertiary studies – thus he was not paying further towards these.
The husband turned to the Western Cape High Court to have a warrant of execution for arrears maintenance, schooling fees, tertiary education and other amounts set aside.
His ex-wife earlier obtained the warrant, as she said she had to fork out for the children, as the husband had stopped paying the amounts he had agreed he would pay in terms of a settlement agreement when they got divorced.
The husband argued that he was only to pay maintenance until the son reached majority – which is 18 under South African law – and that the daughter has not shown the necessary “aptitude and diligence in her studies”.
According to him, he and his ex-wife had agreed that he would only pay towards his daughter’s studies if she performed accordingly.
The daughter failed to complete her first-year course in 2019.
The father agreed to give his daughter another chance to study for a different course at the beginning of 2020. During that year she did not achieve the required results and was diagnosed with generalised anxiety and bipolar mood disorder. The father then put his foot down on paying further.
While the father and mother differed on what they perceived “aptitude and diligence in her studies” meant, the court said it did not matter what their perception was.
Judge Judy Cloete referred to the daughter’s psychologist, who said “due to her illness she was unable to focus adequately on her academic career”, and that this should be considered sympathetically. The expert said the daughter was working hard at her health and things should improve.
The judge said the parents agreed during divorce to contribute towards the children for as long as the children are not supporting themselves, thus the father had to continue paying.