Mothers and Maintenance …..

The idea of maintenance and how so many moms need to fight for maintenance makes me angry.

Like blood boiling angry.  Like Bobbit Penis Cutting Off angry.

My mother was a single mother for much of the years we grew up.

My parents were {bitterly} separated when I was about 5.

The fight for maintenance/child custody/the fun years lasted well until I was 12 years old, and eventually my parents were divorced.  The maintenance fighting was a constant backdrop theme from Sub A through to when I finished High School.

My father wasn’t a particularly good father when he and my mother were together {actually truth be told he was epic shit  – but let’s leave that for another day}.

On separation he really worked hard on finding the lowest possible level of humanity he could stoop to.  He was a horrendous ex-husband and took crap fatherhood to an untold low.

He refused to pay maintenance.  My mom as permanently at maintenance court trying to force him to pay what the court had decreed he should pay.

The problem is to fight this fight she needed to get time off work.  Sit for hours in the warm and fuzzy place that maintenance court was, and of course pay her lawyer to plead her case.  Money we did not have, to pay for something that by rights we should not be standing arguing about in a court room.

It did not really matter what the court decided was a “fair” amount.c  As my father would either be back in court to spend a few more days explaining why he could not afford to pay the amount, or just not pay. Or lose his job, as then well, he could argue he did not have money to pay maintenance.

My mother  had to spend her time, and money, tracking where he was employed, what he earned, where he lived.  Present all this as evidence to the court, as the court did not have resources to do the leg work.

She would get all this information.  The court would say “Okay, Mr Derek MacLeod you need to pay R75.00 (or what ever pittance it was)” and then Mr MacLeod would change jobs or move and the process would start at square one again (repeat over numerous years).

Maintenance court was a permanent background event whilst I was growing up.

I recall how angry and upset my mother was, and how she would truly be at her wit’s end.

My mom worked every day of her life, and made she always had a job – at times she had two jobs, not so we could live in the lap of luxury, but so we could have shoes on our feet and apricot jam in our jaffles.

Financially we were pretty much on the level of  “poor whites” and lived off her salary.

Three kids + a secretaries salary =not many fun outings, or new shoes.

These were not the golden year of my young days I guarantee you.  Much of my youth we spent going without.  Groceries, bond payment, and petrol pretty much took up most of the money with very little left over for baubles and trinkets.  I never (seldom) had new clothes, and survived on hand me downs.

If it costed money, then we did not get it.

My father was a spiteful man.  I am convinced that part of the reason he would jerk my mother around about maintenance was because he was a spite son-of-a-bitch. Pure and simple.

Why else would a man not provide for his children?

Why else would a man willingly let his children go without whilst he sought to pursue his own hobbies and girlfriends?

I read this post by The Stiletto Mom and it made me angry.

I have been the child that exists through this chaos of maintenance.  I could never understand why a man would consider himself a man and stand in court and explain to a court room why he was not going to support his children.

His children.  Not poor unknown waifs from Ethiopia. His children.  Fruit of his loins.

The ones he held in his hairy paws way back then and promised to protect and love. I totally get that a man can stop loving his girlfriend, wife, the mother of his children – but when is it okay to stop providing for your children?

Maintenance always seems to turn into this anger between the mom and dad.

The mom appears to want too much money, the dad appears to have an issue with the money.

Listen, I totally understand that a man might not trust the ex-woman in his life, but why argue about money for your kids.

There just seems to be this persistent moaning by men about how they can “only afford x maintenance” ….. excellent.  I personally can only afford R2 000.00 on school fees.  Unfortunately school fees are R6 000.00, so you know what happens I suck it up and make a plan.

I realise this is probably not the most eloquently written “bitch and moan about maintenance and the men who refuse to be men and get their shit together” but Hannes over at Stilletto Mom right now embodies everything that makes me angry. {I don’t know Hannes, he may be a super stand up guy — like super man father material …. he just might be ….. I doubt that is what his child(ren) will feel at this moment as mom is wondering if she should rather buy milk or bread, but not both}

Hannes, it is not about what you can afford, it is about what your child needs to survive.

Can’t afford it?  Get a second job, but for shit sake, grow a pair!

Leave a comment


  1. Laura

     /  November 4, 2012

    I fully support Helen Zille and the DA’s drive to bring maintenance-dodgers to book. The fact that police in the Western Cape are mandated to haul these offenders off to jail during routine road blocks is yet another good reason the DA gets my vote!
    As citizens first and moms second, we should use our right to vote to stop fathers and those in power from cheating our children!!!
    People who say that they can’t be bothered to vote, shouldn’t bother to breathe …. politics is about us and affects every one of us!!!!

    • reluctantmom

       /  November 5, 2012

      I believe that father who do not “father” children is a huge issue in our society. Not paying maintenance is a symptom, but there is so much more going on here that needs to be addressed.

      But, that withstanding, I am thrilled the police are using road blocks as another method to collar dads who do not pay!

  2. pamiejane

     /  November 1, 2012

    Excellent rant! These kind of men have no right to call themselves fathers.

  3. I have a girlfriend who had a child with a complete fucking idiot (I went to school with him since we were both young, so it goes beyond just his lack of fatherhood). When he was with her and the baby was young, he would get so angry that she rather him stay home to help her with the baby that he would wake the baby up till it cried then leave the house yelling and shouting.

    He threatened her, told her that no one else would want her because she was damaged goods (great things for a 17 year old to hear). She never fought for maintenance, she just couldn’t put the energy into it. She was fortunate enough to get a really good job and continue to have really good jobs. Not saying it was ever easy.

    He still lives with his parents and all of his money goes towards pot and his ever revolving underage girlfriends (last I heard, anyway). He had a year where he all of a sudden wanted to see his little girl, made the mom feel guilty enough, and all he did was try to sleep with the mom!

    She had other issues too, you need the father of the baby to sign for a passport. Took her years just to get ass hat to do that. It’s very frustrating.

  4. janefraser101

     /  October 31, 2012

    Yeah my lovely ex and I had a great divorce settlement. It was fair and amicable… however to this day (4+ years now) he has not once ever paid it. Not once. And he’s been MIA completely for nearly 3 years now. So it’s just me on my own always. It’s hard. But it’s better than all the crap, so I suck it up and make it work. Honestly I couldn’t even be bother to track him down and drag him into court. He is just not worth the effort. And his children are better off without him. So really he is the only loser – in all respects.

  5. It is men like these that give fathers a bad name.

  6. Hi Celeste,

    I don’t think I will ever understand this type of mentality from people who refuse to pay maintenance. My mom’s best friend experienced the same thing when her husband left her for another woman….who was pregnant with his fourth child. Yes, My mom’s friend had three children by him, all under the age of 10.
    He refused to pay maintenance and ran away with his new pregnant bride to the UK, where he has been for the last 16 or so years. What a coward.

    Good post, enjoyed the rant 🙂

  7. aeroplanejane

     /  October 31, 2012

    Never knew these kind of people existed, but of late I had the misfortune to meet their kind. In my opinion they should be castrated to make sure the cannot have more children “they cannot afford”. These kind have also been know to be the “fun parent” and spoil kids with iPads and rugby tickets and shit that he miraculously can afford when it suits him, but which does not ensure the child’s school fees, OT, etc. is paid. It should be illegal.

  8. The International Laundress

     /  October 31, 2012

    Well stated – there is just no excuse for a father who turns his back on his own kids
    I. L.

  9. 14 years on and I still have to fight monthly to get maintenance. It drives me batty and it takes all my energy. I hate him with a passion and often think i’d like to hire a bounty hunter – sound mean, not so much. Considering he lives in the UK and earns pounds, yet cannot afford to pay what is his fair share of his child’s upbrining. Makes me sick.

  10. Tan

     /  October 31, 2012

    Well put I have to agree.

  11. I also had to go to maintenance court a couple of times, and then just gave up, because it just seem not worth it in the end…
    I have also written about withholding maintenance from your children is another kind of violence! The worst kind!
    They have to live with their conscience for the rest of their miserable lives!
    I have told my daughter that she has no responsibility towards her dad, because he did not take any responsibility for her!
    I am sorry to hear that you had to endure that!
    I am also very angry about dads not looking after their own children!!

  12. What a shit of a father – sorry but I am so angry you had to suffer this when you were just a kid – argh! I didn’t have this – I had a very different kind of childhood, but I have a good friend who just lives up the road and her husband has done the same kind of thing – rejected his own children.

  13. Charlotte aka The Stiletto Mum

     /  October 31, 2012

    Thanks Celeste your post means a lot to me. I will get by as I always do and I wish that he could grow a pair as well.


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