Divorce Attorney Cape Town

The Top 10 Reasons For Divorce In South Africa


It is said that divorce is more emotionally devastating than losing employment, about equal to experiencing a major illness, and somewhat less devastating than the other spouse’s death.  Reasons perceived by both men and women as the causes of divorce include loss of love and incompatibility, poor communication, addiction, basic unhappiness, infidelity, emotional problems, conflict over roles, and spouses’ personality traits. The common conclusion to all studies on prevention of relationship breakdown and the causes of divorce is that a constellation of factors, not one, is normally responsible for the breakdown of a marriage relationship. Men, women and especially children benefit from a secure, stable and nurturing marital partnership and family environment. Since relationships are dynamic and family circumstances alter through the course of the marriage (birth of a child, dealing with teenagers, a change in employment, illness of a family member), spouses can only benefit more from ongoing counselling options across the different stages of marriage and family life.

The reasons below were the most commonly cited drawn from the records of 500 divorce actions instituted in South Africa during 2011.

10. Difference in priorities

The difference in priorities amongst married couples, which a lot of men and women discuss and anticipate prior to their marriage do become major issues for many marriages at a later stage. If one spouse wants to start a family and the other does not, it may create immense conflict between the spouses. It happens often that one spouse starts spending less time with their family and focus on other priorities. This often creates a struggle for any marriage to survive. No matter how much the spouses try to harmonize their priorities, they still remain complete unique, distinct and complete different individuals.

9. Religious Differences

Couples of a different religion, culture or ethnicity sometimes disregard the expectations of their partner’s religion and this often cause resentment amongst them. These differences are mainly due to the several taboos posed by a specific culture. Besides this, most parents prefer that the children’s religion should be the same as themselves.

8. Parental Responsibilities

It often happens that spouses aren’t able to constructively co-parent their children during their marriage. Children are reflections of our own selves, and sometimes parents are not being able to let go of their own egos and put their children in the backburner. Differences in ideas on how to raise children properly cause rifts in marriages, contributing to the list of reasons for divorce. It often happen that one parent creates a rift between the other parent and the children by siding with the children and thereby forming two camps within the marriage. This often causes the other parent to feel rejected within the marriage. Differences between parents on how to discipline children also create tension in the marriage, to the extent that the other parent feels rejected, especially where a parent reprimands the other parent in front of the children.

7. Finances

In the face of tough times, some marriages spiral downwards. Money or anything related to it is a cause of disagreement between spouses. Married couples, whether happy or not, may have disagreements over little financial issues. Money is not always the sole or primary cause of divorce in married couples and is usually combined with other top reasons for divorce causing distress.

6. Sexual incompatibility

Men and women are different emotionally, mentally, sexually. Things can change as the marriage progress, i.e children, health challenges, career changes etc. In most cases sexual dissatisfaction in a partner usually results in divorce. The issue of sexual incompatibility varies significantly from case to case. If a spouse is not being emotionally and physically fulfilled, he/she will look elsewhere.

5. Addiction

Marriage, family and addiction certainly don’t mix well at all. Before the internet, strip clubs, videos and DVDs were the catalyst to pornographic addiction. These days more and more people spend countless hours viewing pornography online, buying into a fantasy. Addiction not only has a degrading effect on the person and his/her spouse, but most often it leaves disastrous emotional scars on children, close relatives and friends. Spouse who spend countless hours on social networks to the exclusion of valuable family interaction, create a permanent disconnect that cannot be repaired, and divorce follows. Addiction is like a black hole, sucks everything in its path of destruction throwing a relationship out of balance and the more it continues the stronger it gets.

4. Social Networks – Facebook, Twitter and Mxit

Facebook flirting and comments contribute to an increasing number of divorces and social media is affecting privacy and family interaction. Social media blurs the line between public and private. The nature of Facebook, Twitter, Mxit, Google+ and other social media outlets encourages free-spirited commenting, posting and sharing of information. What’s posted on social networking sites is not as private as you think. Facebook has made it really easy for people to look if the grass is greener on the other side especially when there are so many profiles that are just a click away.

3. Marriage Infidelity

Infidelity, Adultery or more commonly known as “cheating” is on top of the list of reasons for divorce in South Africa. Most people know exactly what infidelity or cheating is but in more formal terms infidelity goes to the root of the basis of any relationship, namely trust and it is a violation of mutually agreed rules or boundaries that a couple assume in their relationship. Adultery may be defined as extramarital sex that wilfully and maliciously interferes with marriage relations which renders the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship.

2. Physical, psychological, financial or emotional abuse

Abusers can be either a husband or a wife and it is a big area of concern for many couples. Domestic violence and abuse occur among heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, as well as any people living together in the same household. While women and children are the most victimized, men are also abused, especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes physically too. Domestic violence occurs in all age ranges, ethnic groups, and class levels. Abuse varies from family to family, however in a short list they include things like telling a spouse that they are unwanted, name-calling, ignoring, restricting person to a room, monitoring phone calls, forcing spouse in doing something which they are not comfortable with, withholding of finances etc. Abuse is one of the top reasons for divorce.

1. Lack of communication

Josh Billings once said that “Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute”. The lack of communication is the single biggest cause for divorce and account for almost 70% of all breakdowns in a marriage relationship. Without communication properly no relationship can ever be effective. Communication in a marriage does not mean agreeing with each other. Couples who have communication problems, which usually lead to divorce and breakdown are not able to find the middle way and are not able to compromise. Many couples lack communication when it comes to making decisions about finances. The lack of communication cause financial problems and endless arguments. Many couples also have a complete lack of communication when they have to make decisions about their children for instance. The lack of communication in all areas of marriage cause major damage to the marriage relationship.

About the Author

Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 22 years experience in most sectors of the law and 14 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times and magazines such as Noseweek, You and Huisgenoot, and also appeared on SABC television on the 3 Talk TV show. His clients include artists, celebrities, sports people and high networth individuals. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.

Source: http://voices.news24.com/bertus-preller/2012/01/top-10-reasons-for-divorce-in-south-africa/

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Christianity and Divorce – Survey shows Christians divorce more than atheists and agnostics


If you look at divorce statistics by religion it may be a bit surprising. While the assumption may be that people who are practicing members of a religious faith are less likely to divorce, the statistics paint a complete different picture.

The slogan: “The family that prays together, stays together” is well known among Christians.

But the slogan seems to fall by the wayside when cognizance is taken of the outcome of the research.

These divorce statistics come from a study conducted by The Barna Research Group in the USA. A total of 3,854 people living in different regions of the United States participated in the survey.

Divorce Statistics by Religion

Religious Faith Percentage of Membership Divorced
Non-denominational 34
Baptist 29
Episcopal 28
Pentecostal 28
Methodist 26
Presbyterian 23
Catholic 21
Lutheran 21
Atheist/Agnostic 21

The results of the survey reached the conclusion that divorce rates are higher among people who are members of conservative Protestant faiths. Being a member of a church does not afford couples an immunity from the issues that affect all couples that can lead to divorce.

The survey found that divorce rates were lower for people who described themselves as atheist or agnostic. The study results indicate that having religious faith does not safeguard believers from the stresses on a marriage that can led to divorce. It is alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce.

“Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing”, according to George Barna.

The research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how most churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage however belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea whether churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.

About the Author:

Bertus Preller is a Divorce Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times and magazines such as Noseweek, You and Huisgenoot, and also appeared on SABC television on the 3 Talk TV show. His clients include artists, celebrities, sports people and high networth individuals. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.

Divorce Season


Divorce season is nearly upon us

More divorces are filed in January and February than in any of the other months of the year. Being stranded in a bad marriage during the holiday season many spouses find themselves moving into the New Year determined to never spend another Christmas in their marriages. This is sad, but unfortunately a reality of the world we live in. Unfortunately in many instances, divorce doesn’t end suffering, it actually doubles suffering.

In practical terms, the big “D” means one house becomes two houses with all the expense it takes of running both. In other words the income that it took to maintain one home will now have to somehow cover the expense of maintaining two households.

One can argue that divorce is basically trading one set of problems for another, unless you educate yourself and navigate the process in such a way that it cuts down the expense and is fair to all involved.

Divorces in January annually dramatically escalate, this is often because of spouses being compelled to spend time together on holiday and during this period they scrutinise and evaluate their relationship and come to the conclusion that they are completely incompatible.

Couples who marry at a young age are most likely to divorce. Among 25 to 29 year-olds, the rate is more than twice as high as people in older age groups.

Finances also cause domestic arguments and put a strain on any relationship, potentially resulting in divorce. However, having said that many couples looking to divorce are being forced to stay together under the same roof due to the lack of movement in the housing market and because some simply can’t afford to go through divorce proceedings.

A typical marriage these days in the UK will last for 10 years. By contrast, a cohabiting relationship is likely to last only two or three years before the couple either marry or break up.

South African Statistics on Divorce

In 2010, 170 826 civil marriages of South African citizens and permanent residents were registered. This number includes 3 830 (2,2%) marriages of South African citizens and permanent residents that were  solemnised outside  the  borders  of  South  Africa  but  subsequently  registered  in South  Africa.

In 2010, data on 22 936 divorces from civil marriages were processed, indicating a drop-off  7  827  or  25,4%  from  the  30  763  cases  processed in  2009. The distribution of couples divorcing by population group shows  that the  highest  proportion  of  divorces  between  2001  and  2007  came  from the  white  population  group followed by the black African population group. In 2001, 43,2% of the divorcees were from the white population group whereas 23,1% came from the African black group. However, from 2008 to 2010, the pattern changed. The black African population exhibited the highest proportion of divorces followed by the white population group. Thus 35,6% of the 2010 divorcees came from the African black population group and 30,5% from the white group. The proportions of the coloured and the Indian/Asian groups were quite variable during the ten year period.

In 2010 there were more female 11 309 (49,3%) than male 7 999 (34,9%) initiating divorce. The population group was unspecified in 15,8% of divorces. With the exception of females from the black African  population  group  who had  a  lower  proportion  of  plaintiffs  compared  to  males,  the  proportion  of female plaintiffs from the other population groups was above 50,0%. For example, 39,5% of black African plaintiffs were females compared to 57,6% female white plaintiffs.

In 2010 divorce cases for both males and females were mainly from people who had married once. About 80,0% of divorces for males and females were from first marriages compared to approximately 10,0% from second time marriages. About 2,0% of males and females were getting divorced for at least the third time.

The median age at divorce in 2010 was 41 years for males and 38 years for females. The median age for males was  down  from  42  years  in  2009  but that  of  females  remained  unchanged.  This indicates that males generally divorced at older ages than females, with a difference of about three years in 2010. The pattern of median age by population group and sex in 2010 was basically the same as that observed in 2009 where black African  males  had the  highest  median  age  (44  years)  at  the  time  of  divorce  and  females from  the  Indian/Asian group had the lowest median age (35 years) at the time of divorce. Furthermore, the 2010 data for black African women (38 years) show a drop of one year from 39 years in 2009 whereas the ages for white males and females had increased by one year from 41 and 38 years to 42 and 39 years respectively.

Although  there  are  differences  in  the  ages  at  which  most  males  and females  from  the various  population  groups  divorced,  the  age  patterns are  quite  similar.  The data reveal  that  there  were  fewer divorces among the young (less than 25 years old) and the old (55 years and older). For male divorcees, the peak age group at divorce was 35–39 for each of the population groups with the exception of the black Africans which peaked at 40–44. In the case of females, the peak age group was 35–39 for each of the population groups except the Indian/Asian group that peaked at 30-34 and the mixed group that did not show and particular pattern

2010 indicate that the largest number 5 989 (27,3%) of the divorces lasted between five and nine years. This group is followed by marriages that lasted less than five years 4 577 (20,9%). Thus, almost half (47,7%) of the 22 936 divorces in 2010 were marriages that lasted less than 10 years.

In  2010,  12  486  (54,4%)  of  the  22  936  divorces  had  children  younger than  18  years. The proportions of divorces with children were quite high among the coloured population group (64,9%), black Africans(58,0%) and the Indians/Asians (55,4%). The distribution of the number of children affected by divorce shows that 37,9% were from the black African population group; 27,6% from the white population group and 17,3% from the coloured population group. Overall, there were 20 383 children (younger than 18 years old) involved in divorce indicating that, on the average, there was between one and two children per divorce.

Statistics courtesy of Stats SA

About the Author

Bertus Preller is a Divorce Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times and magazines such as Noseweek, You and Huisgenoot, and also appeared on SABC television on the 3 Talk TV show. His clients include artists, celebrities, sports people and high networth individuals. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.

Tel: 021 422 1323

Email: bertus(@)divorceattorney.co.za

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