Die onderwerp wat in hierdie artikel bespreek word, is in die Suid-Afrikaanse reg relatief nuut en onontwikkeld. In hierdie artikel word verwysings na stieffamilieverhoudings beperk tot gevalle waar die biologiese ouer met haar of sy kinders in 'n huwelik of burgerlike vennootskap met 'n persoon wat nie 'n biologiese ouer is nie in 'n gemeenskaplike huishouding betrokke is.
Sedert die beslissing van Heystek v Heystek, is hierdie aspek in Botha v Botha en in MB v NB in oënskou geneem. Die doel met hierdie artikel is om opnuut na die regsfundering van so 'n "aanspraak" binne die Suid-Afrikaanse reg te kyk.
Die artikel word in vier hoofdele verdeel. Eerstens, sal die verskillende regsteoretiese funderings van die onderhoudsplig beskryf word. Daarna word die bespreking opgevolg deur 'n bondige bespreking van buitelandse reg, waarna die Suid-Afrikaanse reg as derde hoofdeel van nader beskou sal word. Die artikel word deur 'n slotbeskouing afgesluit.
In this article the foundation of a step-child's claim for maintenance against a step-parent is investigated. Primarily three foundations for a child's maintenance claim are revealed namely the formalistic and status based justification; the best interests of the child justification; and the functional justification. The first mentioned justification does not apply as foundation for the maintenance claim of the stepchild against the step-parent because the step-parent is not the natural or putative parent. The second justification focuses on the economic needs of children and the economic dislocation they suffer when formerly relied support from a step-parent is lost. The last justification pays attention to the social reality of relationships rather than to the formal characteristics thereof. Two reasons are given why the last mentioned justification applies to the maintenance claim of step-children. One, harm and compensation may serve as basis for the liability to pay maintenance. Two, the case where the step-parent takes over the role of parent the in loco parentis principle may serve as a foundation.
The comparative law investigation reveals that the majority of foreign country systems grounds the claim on the in loco parentis principle.
Different foundations for the claim are found in South African case law. The fact that the parties are married makes them liable for the maintenance of the common household. Two foundational possibilities arise from this. One, the consortium of the marriage grounds the maintenance obligation which is without any foundation in our law. Two, the obligation is founded upon the purchase for household necessaries. In a legal theoretical sense this is unacceptable because there are fundamental differences between the capacity to purchase household necessaries and a claim for maintenance. Section 28(1) (b) and (2) of the constitution are tabled as foundation for the claim. The fact that the step-parent acts in loco parentis grounds the obligation. Lastly, de facto adoption is also forwarded as foundation. The call on different justifications creates confusion and results in different answers. The maintenance of a child must primarily serve to satisfy the financial needs of the child and should focus less on the psychic and psychological support of the child. However, the economic reliance of the child on the support should also not be ignored. Therefore a combination of the reliance based justification and the in loco parentis foundation is advocated which I think is achieved in the MB case where section 28(1)(b) of the constitution in combination with the in loco parentis principle was applied.