Pretoria - A tussle over “who brought the most assets into the marriage” played off in the Limpopo High Court, sitting in Polokwane.
The man complained he had to share his hard-earned assets with his now former wife, while she brought only a car and furniture when they married.
But, as the court pointed out, when they signed a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, it was binding, and the assets should be divided equally.
The court said although at the stage of changing vows the couple had no idea the marriage would not last, the prenuptial agreement remained in place.
The couple, who cannot be identified as the application forms part of divorce proceedings, were married for about five years before things turned sour.
To make things worse for the husband, he had to share part of his pension earnings with his previous wife when they divorced. And now he had to share the remaining part with his second wife when they divorced.
The Polokwane Regional Court earlier ordered the parties had to share equal part in their joint estate as part of the divorce order.
Aggrieved by this, the husband appealed against the judgment. He said he brought far more into the marriage. He, among others, wanted his former wife to forfeit some of the assets in their estate, which included two properties and his pension.
The husband said the assets his second bride brought into the marriage were a Nissan Livinia motor vehicle which she was paying for, her pension benefit of R168 074 and furniture.
He came into the marriage with two immovable properties, pension money amounting more than R2.8 million, two vehicles – a Toyota and an Audi – furniture and his savings.
He said he used his savings to build them a dream house and paid the bond during their marriage.
In March 2016, a year before their marriage went sour, the parties concluded an antenuptial contract under which the accrual system was excluded.
However, their marital regime never changed and it remained a marriage in community of property on the day of the divorce.
The husband told the court that as his ex-wife’s financial contribution to the marriage was “next to nothing”, she would unduly benefit from the marriage in community of property if a forfeiture order was not made.
The wife’s version was that when they married, she was gainfully employed. She was subsequently dismissed but, following a CCMA dispute in her favour, she had the option of either returning to work or accepting a settlement package.
Her husband told her to take the package and agreed to take care of her financially. The wife said she continued to pay for her car, their groceries and a contribution towards the wages of the workers who were building their house. Thus, she argued, she earned her keep.
The lower court, which initially ordered an equal division of the assets, said a marriage in community of property was a universal economic partnership of the spouses, and all their assets and liabilities were merged in a joint estate, in which both spouses, irrespective of the value of their financial contributions, held equal shares.
The court found it did not matter who brought the most to the table.
Two judges of the high court agreed. They said that as minimal as the wife’s contributions may have been, there was an universal economic partnership in place. It was also pointed out the husband wanted his wife not to return to work; thus he agreed to take care of her.
In turning down the appeal, the court said the husband had no choice but to give his wife half of everything he owned.