Divorce is a costly business

Divorce is a costly business. Picture: File

Divorce is a costly business. Picture: File

Published Feb 15, 2024


It is an old saying that in disputes, there is your version, my version and the truth.

In Rule 43 applications (interim maintenance pending final divorce), there are often many more versions a court has to consider; especially regarding children. There is seldom an objective truth.

These were the words of an acting judge who was recently confronted with an interim maintenance issue between two divorcing parents recently. The wife, on the one hand, inflated her monthly expenses, and her husband, on the other hand, made offers towards her maintenance which were far below what she could survive on.

The husband told the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, that his soon-to-be ex-wife could make attempts to obtain a job, as he could not be solely responsible for maintaining two households.

Acting Judge C Von Ludwig said Rule 43 applications were one of the most important but most difficult aspects of a divorce. That was because parties were usually at loggerheads and had not been able to reach amicable or mediated resolutions.

A Rule 43 application meant that the parties were in litigation and that usually implied scant meeting of the minds, he said.

Thus, the judge added, few Rule 43 affidavits were without allegations of undesirable conduct by each party against the other, including spending, earning and concealing money.

The objective truth was thus seldom before the courts.

The judge said the best the court was able to do was attempt to find, as most courts in that position did, a middle road that ensured that the children most especially, but also the parties, were able to meet their needs within a close approximation of their lifestyle, without the sole income earner having to incur excessive expenditure.

He said the court had had no alternative but to work through the wife’s expenses claim (which the court found excessive and unrealistic even for someone living the extremely comfortable lifestyle the parties obviously used to enjoy) and allocated appropriate figures to the necessary categories.

While the court came to its own figures about what the wife should be paid, the judge said that was far from what she had sought but also almost double what her husband had offered.

“This is a result which will leave both parties unhappy but the respondent (wife) and the children must eat, get about, have toiletries and other usuals, and the home must run.”

The wife also asked the husband to contribute towards her legal costs in the divorce, as she is not working. The husband is of the opinion that she must fight her own legal battles as he cannot afford to fund them.

The husband had been able to pay almost R200 000 for his legal costs, and to allow the wife to litigate on the same level, there could not be a contribution of less than that, the judge said.

The wife estimated that she would need a R864 000 contribution from her husband to get on the steps of the divorce court.

While acknowledging that the fees could be high, the judge said he was satisfied that she could bring herself to trial with the contribution at the same level on which her husband would litigate.

He ordered that the husband contribute R452 000 towards his wife’s legal costs. He also had to pay her R27 150 a month maintenance and R15 000 maintenance towards each child.

The husband was also ordered to pay the expenses for the matrimonial home in which she is living, as well as school and other expenses related to the children.

Pretoria News

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