Pretoria - A woman who is used to the good life will have to tighten her belt after she told the court she needed her estranged husband to contribute R45 000 a month to her monthly expenses, which she estimated to be R137 818.67 a month.
Her application was denied.
She told the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, that while she earned R134 621.94 a month working for an international company, after tax, pension, and medical aid contributions, she only took home R 81 647.37 a month.
This, she said, left her with a significant shortfall, for which her husband had to make up in monthly maintenance to her, pending finalisation of their divorce. She did, however, admit that from April to December last year, she also made money from being “an influencer” on social media and was able to save R90 000 a month.
But the mother of 3-year-old twins said things were different then, as she still lived in the marital home, drove her husband’s company Volvo and was able to use his credit card as it suited her.
She had since moved out of the family home into a two-bedroom flat in an affluent Johannesburg suburb, for which she had to fork out R35 000 a month.
She also had to give the company Volvo back and buy a second-hand luxury vehicle for which she had to pay R679 000. This left her with a monthly shortfall, the woman told the court.
The husband, on the other hand, was paying R20 000 a month towards the twins, who divide their time between the two parents. He also paid all their other expenses, including more than R15 800 a month in school fees.
Apart from this, he happily paid for their nanny and for the wife’s two housekeepers (totalling more than R27 000 a month). But he drew the line at paying the wife monthly maintenance, as he said she was more than able to financially take care of herself.
In June last year when her husband instituted divorce proceedings, the wife demanded spousal maintenance of R81 000 a month and maintenance for the children of R36 000. She later lowered her demands and said she had a shortfall on her own expenses (excluding the needs of the children) of about R45 000.
She said she also wanted R17 400 towards the children’s maintenance, but the husband said he was already paying R20 000 towards this and did not mind continuing to do so.
He told the court his wife was not being frank about the additional income she received as an “influencer on social media” and he objected to the fact that her boyfriend was living with her rent-free in the flat which she included in her monthly expenses.
The woman has been permanently employed by the local branch of a well-known international company since 2014. Throughout the parties’ relationship and marriage, which spanned 13 years, she was employed, earned a handsome salary, and had contributed more than R2.5 million towards the costs of their household over the past five years, the court was told.
The husband earned a monthly net salary of R109 253.93, which included a car allowance entitling him the use of a BMW M3. In addition, his employer (the family company) paid about R73 850 a month for rates and taxes of the former marital home, which has now been sold.
Acting Judge Sarita Liebenberg said the parties enjoyed a relatively high standard of living, including residing in upmarket accommodation, driving expensive vehicles, and holidaying abroad.
The wife said apart from her financial needs, the children’s monthly expenses amounted to R17 400 a month, which excluded their schooling, medical needs and the costs of their nanny.
But the father said he paid these directly to the relevant service providers.
Questioned about her boyfriend’s contribution to her household, the mother said only that he “pays for whatever he consumes in my household”.
Judge Liebenberg said if the woman allowed her boyfriend to stay at her home for free, she could not complain that she needed maintenance from the husband to pay for their accommodation.
The court found that the boyfriend’s monthly contributions towards the occupation of the flat ought to be no less than R13 707. “This amount stands to be deducted from the applicant’s list of expenses,” the judge said.
While the husband said the wife’s expenses, as listed by her, were far too high, the court did not comment on this, other than to say that “she can make adjustments to the extent of her alleged monthly expenses” and that “some of the amounts are inflated”.
Looking at the expenses, the judge concluded that the reasonable monthly expenses of the wife and the children were about R86 118.
Taking into account all the expenses the husband paid for – such as the nanny and schooling – the judge said the wife earned more than enough to cover her and the children’s reasonable monthly expenses.
The husband was ordered to continue paying what he did at present.