Cape Town - A 32-year-old man’s attempt to have his wife pay interim monthly maintenance of R21 000 per month and his legal costs while divorce proceedings are under way, has failed in the Western Cape High Court.
The application by the husband – who is alleged to have physically abused his 52-year-old wife – was recently dismissed by Judge Deidre Kusevitzky.
The husband sought an initial contribution to his legal costs in the amount of R200 000.
Judge Kusevitzky said interim maintenance applications under the Rule 43 proceedings, while the main divorce action is pending before court, had been abused by applicants.
“In recent times, and if the court roll is anything to go by, applications for interim maintenance have morphed into unrealistic, super-inflated claims by applicants, using the rule as a measure or yardstick to gain advantage in the main action.
“In certain instances, substantial interim maintenance has been awarded to applicants which has had, in some instances, the unintended consequence of claimants not being inclined to finalise the main divorce action.
“In my view, the basic tenets of the rule have been forgotten and is more often than not, abused,” Judge Kusevitzky said.
Referring to case law, the judge said: “A claimant for maintenance pendente lite was not entitled, as of right, and without more, to maintenance sufficient to keep him or her in the same lifestyle as that enjoyed during the marriage”.
The pair married in 2018 and had no children. The wife filed for divorce in 2021.
The judgment read: “In casu, in the application, the (husband) states that he is an adult handyman and lives in a ‘Wendy house’ on a farm in Rooi Els, Western Cape.
“He states that he is unable to support himself.
“The (wife) however is able to support him since she is the owner of a guesthouse and can support him from the income that she receives by virtue of the income that she generates from the guesthouse.
“He says that (his wife) resides in a four-bedroom double-storey guest house which is fully paid for.
“He lived there too until he was ejected from the matrimonial home.
He says that he has not generated a fixed income and has earned R6 983 per month over the last 14 months.
“According to his affidavit, the couple enjoyed holidays and week-ends away together, all of which was paid for by (his wife).
“Other expenses paid for by the wife was dining at restaurants, day spas and upgrades to the former common home.
“He states that he has always been employed in the informal sector as a handyman and has no assets of value.”
The wife – who supports herself from rental income made from self-catering accommodation and lives off an investment she inherited from her late husband – disputed that her husband was living in “a Wendy house” but in a “fully equipped and furnished wooden eco-cabin outside of Betty’s Bay”.
The judgment also detailed various incidents of abuse submitted by the wife with the latest assault occurring on March 6 last year, when the husband allegedly head-butted her in the face forcing her to flee their home in the middle of the night.
The man, who has since stopped working, also wanted his wife to pay for the maintenance of the Ford Ranger bakkie.
She had bought him the vehicle to conduct his handyman business.
“(A) rule 43 order is not meant to provide an interim meal ticket to a person who quite clearly at the trial will not be able to establish a right to maintenance.
“It would also be manifestly unfair to expect the (woman) to fund the (man’s) legal fees from the investment that she receives from her late husband’s inheritance,” the judge said.