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Less Known Potential Liabilities For Grandparents

Grandparents’ duty to maintain a grandchild and the obligation by their deceased estate to pay maintenance:

In the judgment of Phillipa Susan van Zyl N.O. v Keith Getz N.O. (6 July 2020) the Supreme Court of Appeal recently reaffirmed the common law position regarding a grandparent’s maintenance obligation towards their grandchildren. In terms of the common law, a grandparent may be legally obliged to support a grandchild if both parents are unable to support the child and the grandparent can do so. (It is, however, uncertain whether a grandparent will have such a duty where the parents, or one of them, is able but unwilling to support the grandchild, or cannot be found.)

The Court was also seized with the question whether the common law should be developed to allow for a grandparent’s deceased estate to bear the onus of support towards grandchildren. It was argued that the common law had to be developed to allow such a claim against a grandparent’s deceased estate based on, amongst other things, the dignity of the grandchild.

The Court found, based on the facts of the matter, that such development was not appropriate and that it may have far-reaching effects on the current law of succession. As such, the common law in this regard remains untouched, for the time being.

For more information or assistance, contact our Family Law Department on 041 363 6044 or email us at

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This article is not intended to constitute legal advice and is produced for information purposes only and to provide a general understanding of the legal position relating to the topic. It is recommended that advice relating to the specific circumstances of your situation be sought from our attorneys before acting upon the content of this article. This article was written at a particular point in time and accordingly may not always reflect the most recent legal developments, if any, applicable to the relevant topic. Kaplan Blumberg and its partners and/or employees, are not responsible for any consequences which may follow upon any decision taken to act upon the information provided in this article.

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