Pretoria - A woman, who according to her now ex-husband loved nice cars and fashionable clothing, forfeited her half of their matrimonial home, as well as her share of his pension money; all because she left him 11 years ago fending for their three children.
The youngest child was 2 at the time and her husband told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that until recently, she never bothered to check up on the children.
He turned to court asking for a divorce, coupled with an order that she forfeit her marital benefits.
The wife, in turn, launched a counter application, saying she was entitled to half of the house and pension, as she was a good wife during the time she had lived with her husband.
The wife pointed out that she, after all, gave him the gift of three children.
Acting Judge J P Phooko, in the preamble to his judgment, said: “Marriage is an institution that lovers decide to conclude for various reasons, including the starting of a family and raising children together.
“In certain marriage regimes, what is mine is yours and vice versa. It is open to the parties prior to the conclusion of a civil marriage to identify a marital regime that will best serve and protect their respective interests.”
Consequently, a marriage could be in community of property, out of community of property with accrual, or out of community of property without accrual.
This is a divorce matter wherein the parties concluded a marriage in community of property.
But the husband, a traffic officer, said if his wife, a police officer, was to get half of everything, she would unduly benefit.
The couple got married 22 years ago, but in 2012 the wife left the common home, leaving the children behind.
The husband recently instituted divorce proceedings on the grounds that the wife, among others, had several extra-marital relationships.
In addition, he said, during the period they lived together, she did not contribute to the maintenance and improvement of the common home, repayments of the mortgage bond, rates, and taxes, or to the upbringing of their children.
The wife, on the other hand, claimed her husband was abusive towards her and had at one stage threatened to kill her.
Consequently, she moved out of the common house for her safety. Her husband denied her access to the property, she said, nor was she able to see the children. She stood her ground and stated that household chores were shared between them; where she lacked it was because of circumstances beyond her control.
She also accused her husband of having affairs during their marriage.
The husband, meanwhile, testified that she at one stage had an affair with one of his colleagues. He said he saw her car outside the man’s house and that she had confessed to the affair.
He said while they were married, he did most of the household chores and paid for everything. He said the wife has a passion for fashion and liked expensive clothes, as well as nice cars.
He said she stopped using their Edgars family clothing account and opened a Woolworths account. She would take items on credit and fail to pay them off, leaving him to bail her out.
The wife testified that they were married in community of property and half of everything is hers.
Besides, she said, she contributed to the marriage by bearing three children for him and thus risked her life.
The judge noted that the wife was described as someone who had a good taste for fashion and spent her money on designer clothes and frequently got a new car. When she fell into arrears, the husband bailed her out.
While the husband said he paid for everything in the house, the wife noted that she too contributed financially to the household affairs. To this end, she mentioned that she used to buy groceries as well as KFC, and had bought curtains and a television stand.
While the judge did not comment on the allegations of the couple having affairs, he took into consideration that the husband was a good father who took care of his children during the 11 years his wife had left him.
“Also, during their marriage he cooked, bathed the children, took them to school, and washed all their clothes despite them both having jobs outside of the home. He was the primary financial provider in the home and the primary caregiver to the children for the majority of their stay together,” the judge said.
He concluded that the wife had to forfeit her half of the house and of her husband’s pension fund.
The judge said it was not as if she in any event brought anything into the marriage in the first place.