The duty to pay spousal maintenance post-divorce is found in Section 7 of the Divorce Act, 70 of 1979. This duty arises in two ways:
Section 7(1) of the Act: provides that the court, when granting a decree of divorce, may in accordance with the written agreement between the parties, make an order with regard to the payment of maintenance by one spouse to the other. This is usually in the case where a settlement agreement is entered into between the parties prior to finalisation of the divorce.
In terms of Section 7 (2) of the Act and in the absence of a written agreement (settlement agreement): the court may make an order which it finds just in respect of the payment of maintenance by the one spouse to the other by taking various factors into account. The court is required to consider the factors referred to in section 7(2) in order to decide, firstly whether maintenance is to be paid at all and, if so, the amount to be paid and the period for which maintenance is to be paid.