Mom’s long battle for justice

Copy of ca p10 empty bags done THE STAR Some women show their empty purses at the Magistrates Court. They have not received their maintenance money and some of the women even had to borrow money for a taxi to get into town. File photo: Damaris Helwig

Durban - A divorced mother-of-two says she has gone to court at least 63 times in three years in an attempt to get her ex-husband to pay maintenance for the children - and the matter is still unresolved.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of her children, has now lodged an unusual application in the Durban High Court to have a property her ex-husband owns transferred into a trust for the benefit of the children.

“I acknowledge that this might be regarded as extraordinary,” she said in an affidavit which came before Judge Peter Olsen recently.

“However, I will show that he has endeavoured to frustrate or avoid payments of maintenance by going to extreme lengths,” she said.

These included resigning from his high-paid job and now stating that he was “unemployed” in spite of being intelligent and well-qualified. He has a BSc.

He had also “dissipated” his pension money.

The mother, who is an attorney, has submitted an 80-page affidavit giving details of each of her visits to a local maintenance court and she now realises she made a mistake in instituting proceedings there rather than in the high court.

“Looking back I realise that, in the years I have been in practice, I have never once heard of a proper maintenance inquiry being conducted there,” she said.

She had become so frustrated that on one occasion in June, when she was tired of being “fobbed off”, she became rude and shouted at officials.

“Security was called and they threatened me with arrest.

“I invited them to do so, saying I would then place the facts before the court,” she said.

Of the 63 visits to the court “to deal with one or other issues relating to maintenance”, 32 were for actual inquiries which were always adjourned and six times marked “final”, she said.

“In seeking these adjournments, my ex-husband’s excuses have ranged from his need to get legal representation, unavailability of legal representation and lack of documentation.

“The other occasions I attended court was to apply for warrants for his arrest for non-payment, or to make applications to attach money to enforce orders.”

She said when he made payments they were usually for lesser amounts that those specified in orders.

She also accused him of transferring substantial sums of money to relatives, hiding income from tenants of the property and placing himself under debt review.

Since March this year he had stopped paying maintenance altogether, she alleged.

The mother said after a “bitter and protracted divorce”, during which her overriding concern was the maintenance of the children, her ex-husband had agreed to transfer a half-share of the property into a trust for the children, who would each get half of this when they turned 21.

But he had not done this and the bond was in arrears and the bank was threatening foreclosure.

“I have no confidence that the magistrate’s court will do anything for me. I have exhausted every other conceivable remedy. It is essential that something be done to safeguard the rights of the children,” she said.

Her ex-husband is opposing the application and it will come back to court later this month.

The Mercury


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