WHAT WOMEN NEED TO KNOW WHEN DIVORCE IS CONSIDERED:
- Understand your marriage regime.
Are you married in or out of community of property?
If you are married in community of property, you will be by law entitled to 50% of the communal estate.
If you are married out of community with the accrual system, you will be entitled to half of the difference of you and your spouse’s accruals.
If you are married out of community of property without the accrual prior to November 1984, you will be able to ask for a redistribution of assets, which can entail that you may be able to claim 50% of the joint assets BUT If you married out of community of property without accrual after 1 November 1984 you will only have a claim for maintenance under certain circumstances.
- You can under certain circumstances claim rehabilitative maintenance.
Rehabilitative maintenance is when one spouse pays the other maintenance for a period of time, say 2 years, so that the ex-spouse can to get a job or search for employment.
Rehabilitative maintenance can also be used for setting up house again, relocation costs, etc.
- You can lodge an application pending divorce to obtain maintenance while the divorce is in process, you can also claim in such application that your spouse makes a contribution to your legal expenses.
- Obtain a much financial information on your spouse; make copies of all bank accounts, credit card statements and the like as well as a schedule of all assets and liabilities, sources of income, etc.
- Draft a detailed budget of your current monthly expenses and income for you and the children. It may be worthwhile to cater for future expenses. Secure the monthly maintenance with a cession of an insurance policy on your ex-spouse’s life in case he is disabled or dies.
- Try to stay in the family home (if it is close to the school or your work). There is a saying in our law, that possession is 9 tenths of the law. Remaining in the communal home will also stabilize the children, as it is proven that relocation can be a very traumatic experience for the children.
- Remember that you shouldn’t necessarily have to pay transfer duties for a property transferred to you during your divorce. You may have various options relating to the property that both of you own, for example by retaining it or selling it and divide the net profits.
- Your divorce settlement agreement must be drafted in such a way that you can enforce a garnishing order on your ex- spouse’s salary should he default on payments, in any event, non-payment of maintenance after divorce may result in contempt of court application.
- Your divorce settlement agreement must be drafted in such a way that you obtain a share of any assets that your spouse has hidden and which you are not aware of at the time of divorce (in event of being married in community of property or pertaining to the accrual system)
- Don’t settle for less to get out of the marriage. Many women simply walk out due to the emotional pressure. Remember that divorce is always a business decision and the decisions that you make now will have an impact only years later in your life. Divorce is a legal process, it can be a very frustrating and emotional draining process that takes time and strategic planning.
- Remember that your ex-spouse’s assets also include shareholdings in companies, retirement funds, pension funds and even tax returns.
- Think with your head and not your heart.
Remember to change your will immediately once you are starting the divorce proceedings.