Pretoria - A husband got less than he bargained for when he turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to divorce his wife with whom he was married in community of property.
The court ordered a forfeiture of the patrimonial benefits, resulting in him not receiving half of her pension benefits.
Judge Brenda Neukircher found that the husband would have unduly benefited if an order for forfeiture of his wife’s pension benefits was not ordered. This was because the husband was an absent father; was financially selfish and that, on a balance of probabilities, assaulted his wife.
The husband painted a bleak picture of how his wife had assaulted him during their marriage. He claimed he was often the victim of her wrath and how he had to defend himself.
But the wife described a completely different picture of how he had abused her during their marriage.
The husband told the court that his wife was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive towards not just him, but also towards his late grandmother and late mother. According to him, she was moody and often shouted and screamed at him over minor issues.
He claimed she scratched him and on one occasion she tried to stab him with a kitchen knife. He was left defenceless to stop her as, no matter where he tried to escape to in the house, she would simply follow him, he told the judge.
According to the husband, they had to move to another town at one stage, as tongues were wagging where they lived due to his wife’s physical attacks on him.
In her counter claim for him to forfeit his portion of her pension money, the wife claimed he had made her life miserable.
The parties both worked for the police – he was a captain and she a clerk.
He was eventually medically boarded, which he blamed on the stress caused by his wife’s constant physical and emotional assaults and the humiliation he suffered as a result. He obtained work abroad and worked there for six years and only came home at times.
The wife said the problems in the marriage started shortly after their honeymoon when her husband began to assault her. He would hit and punch her to such an extent that she had bruises all over her body. On occasion, after these assaults, he would simply lock her in the house to prevent her from going to work, she said. This abuse subsided when he went overseas to work.
She described him as selfish and said he did not contribute towards the children or the household budget. She also testified that he used his pension payment “for his own selfish desires”.
The judge remarked that it was trite that upon divorce, where parties are married in community of property, the joint estate is divided. Where a party does not want an order that the joint estate be divided, he/she can ask for an order of forfeiture, as in this case.
The court took into consideration that the parties were married for 38 years, but that they had spent less than half of this time living together.
The judge said neither party impressed her, but the husband was less impressive.