Divorce Attorney Cape Town

Online DIY Divorce


No one would deny that the world has changed immensely in the past couple of years. Today we are doing almost everything on-line. We shop on-line, listen to music on-line, search on-line and make travel arrangements on-line.  The internet is growing at a phenomenal rate, especially the sector of on-line e-commerce. It is becoming the conventional method of purchasing goods and services. Businesses which fail to embrace its on-line customers will perish.

The legal services profession is one that has already fallen way behind the rest of the business fraternity. In a recent study in the United States it was found that 67% of people would definitely or probably consider performing a legal task online. If performing a legal task online, 72% of the people interviewed wanted of some level of professional involvement or support. The primary perceived benefits of online legal services are value and convenience. 51% were unaware that some legal tasks may be performed on the internet. When in need of legal services, consumers are most likely to look to the internet (46%). Around 10% had completed a legal task online and of those, 83% of those would do so again.

It is a fact that clients and customers can purchase legal document services and templates at certain stationary shops. Contemporary legal customers have an expectation of wanting everything for the cheapest possible price and in the quickest possible time. Online legal services provide instant virtual access to legal support services. The problem however is that one still need a specialist to do the quality control and to check the documents before they are delivered.

That is exactly why more and more South Africans are making use of online DIY Divorce websites and why iDivorce launched. It costs only about R1000 a fraction of what one usually pays for an uncontested divorce. The service makes South Africa’s divorce system more accessible and affordable to the general public. With people struggling to make ends meet in a volatile economic climate an online Divorce website is a definite alternative for spouses seeking an uncontested divorce.

There is a clearly an increase in Europe and the US in the number of online legal services and in the UK alone online Divorces have increased by over 50% over the past few year. Online divorce has been available in the UK since the late ’90s and it’s a growing trend in South Africa too. But this doesn’t mean you can get divorced with just a click of the mouse. Websites for online divorces handle uncontested cases only and generate the forms needed to conclude the divorce. It is therefore up to the spouses to conclude their own divorce.

Where a divorce is contested, for example where the spouses are not able to agree on how to divide their assets, it will be in their interest to rather consult an attorney who specialises in Family Law and Divorce Law.

Where the divorce is less complicated and the spouses agree on the division of their assets then using an online divorce website makes more sense.

Contact iDivorce at http://www.idivorce.co.za


The hostility that lawyers create in divorce cases.

Attorney Fight

It is commonly known in psychological circles that the stress of divorce often reach 9 out of 10 on the Subjective Units of Disturbance scale, the scale for measuring the subjective intensity of disturbance or distress experienced by an individual. Divorce is painful and whenever there are children involved, the family still exists after the relationship ends. The manner in which spouses end a relationship and the way they and their lawyers conduct themselves during this process determines whether the family will be functional or dysfunctional from that day forward.

In an article in the Economist recently it was stated that all around the world, lawyers generate more hostility than the members of any other profession—with the possible exception of journalism. This hostility is even more evident in divorce law, especially when regard is had to how certain divorce lawyers in big divorce cases love to litigate in the media. Family and Divorce Law attorneys may stress that they have a calling, rooted in a deep sense of ethics and commitment to the best interests of their clients. But what they hardly ever mention is the fact that being a lawyer is also a business with at least one eye on profit levels. Without a good business head, very few attorneys will survive today’s economic challenges. So the longer you can stretch the finalisation of a divorce, the more money you will make.

Nowhere is this tension between ethics and business as pronounced as it is with divorce. For some lawyers, a new divorce case is just another client, another day at the office; for the client – vulnerable, distressed and angry – this is usually the worst thing that they have ever experienced and this collision does not always produce a happy result.

South African divorce law is based on the adversarial system where two lawyers represent their clients’ positions before a judge or magistrate, in contested divorce cases, who then attempt to determine the truth of the case. Some writers trace the process to the medieval age old mode of trial by combat, a system that pushes the parties into a mind-set of winners and losers. Let’s face it, we live in an adversarial society, one that approves the idea that every time there is a conflict sides have to be taken. That means one side ending up on top, the other side ending up on the bottom, a looser and a winner. The adversarial system is a poor way to resolve divorce.  This is particularly true where children are involved, the adversarial system is slow and many people are denied justice for too long because the system tends to lengthen the trial process. “Justice delayed is justice denied”. This system is also expensive and requires litigants to have legal representation. The high cost of legal advice and legal representation hinder those who cannot afford it. This may mean that vital evidence which needs to be drawn out by questioning may not be revealed in the trial and as such, the truth may not always emerge.

In the Foreword of the book “Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation”, published by Random House Struik, Judge Denis Davis states as follows: “The adversarial process which is the manner in which the law operates is not at all conducive to a settlement of issues, particularly custody of minor children, which have a long-lasting and vital impact on the lives, not only of the antagonists but also the children who have not, in any way, caused the problem giving rise to the forensic battle. Often in my experience on the Bench, I have wondered how such vicious and counter-productive litigation can be allowed to continue. Lawyers will point to clients, whose disappointment in the breakdown of the marriage now powers such adverse feelings to their erstwhile partner, as the core reason for the ‘legal fight to the finish”.

Divorce attorneys have been taught that the best way to protect their client is to fight for them. When most of them look at a divorce situation all they can see is the conflict that is involved between the spouses. To most divorce attorneys the obvious conclusion is that a fight has to be engaged in, in order to protect their client. If they could step back and take another look at the situation they might be able to see that the conflict and animosity is most of the time of their own creation. Most divorce warfare is created by the attorney’s adversarial nature and the clients play a role in it because it is what they expect and demand from them.

Because our courts operate in an adversarial model, the business of resolving divorce-related issues becomes a contest between starkly opposing extremes. The contest is orchestrated by gladiatorial attorneys whose job it is, in trial-based dispute resolution, to trim down the divorcing couple’s complex emotional, financial, and material issues into readily understood black and white terms. Two people go through a divorce. No matter whose choice it was there is always pain and anger involved on both sides. If you employ an attorney that is going to become aggressive and go on the attack, guess who will get the blame. You will, not your attorney who enjoys being adversarial. He/she may be the person to take the negative action but you will be the one to suffer the consequences of his or her actions.

Like it or not, you are responsible for your attorney’s actions. You did the hiring and you will be paying the legal fees. It is usually in everyone’s best interest that an attorney knows that his/her job is to promote relationships instead of destroying them. It is his/her job to find solutions that mean everyone walks away satisfied and no one is left on the bottom of the pile wondering what the hell happened. Your attorney works for you, you do not work for him/her and if there is not a willingness to work with you in the way you feel most comfortable then find an attorney who is willing to.

It is outrageous to see how much money and effort is spent in contested divorces by preparing for the “main event”: the trial; and while divorce attorneys know that settlement is the likeliest outcome for most cases they handle, it is a common saying among divorce lawyers that the best way to prepare for settlement is to prepare well for trial. The irony is that the marital regime governs the patrimonial consequences of divorce (the manner in which the assets are divided). For example if one is married in community the estate must split 50/50 unless a forfeiture is claimed or when parties are married out of community of property with the inclusion of the accrual an accrual claim will exist, yet many lawyers will advise clients to litigate, spending thousands of rands on legal costs that the parties could have spent on the children for example. Since a judge will never award a party all the relief that he/she requests, divorce lawyers will ask for the moon and the stars.

When two unreasoning spouses create a “divorce of attrition”, the only winners are usually the bank accounts of lawyers. One thing is certain though: the less emotional people are during a divorce, the more likely they are to keep their costs down. Only 3% to 5% of divorce cases actually do go to trial. It should come as no surprise, given the costly and emotional process that family law attorneys go through on the road to settlement, that they worry about negligence suits and frequently find themselves in fee disputes with clients. Unhappy clients are commonplace in family law practice, where disputes above the horizon about rands and hours with children often are the weapons with which clients fight hidden battles that are really about who is aggressor, who is victim, who is good and who is bad. The fees and costs incurred in family law litigation can devastate the savings of all but the wealthiest litigants. Little wonder that family law is a field in which even the most successful practitioners experience high levels of stress and frustration.

The time has come for lawyers specialising in family law to become more collaborative in their approach to solving divorce and family law disputes. In addition we need to re-engineer our family law system. We need problem-solving courts for family matters and the default process for resolving family law matters must be changed from litigation to consensual dispute resolution. After all who has the right to declare parents to be enemies? In family law matters, litigation feeds more than just paranoia. It feeds the lawyers’ bellies and bank accounts. It feeds egos. It breeds contempt (the parties for each other and the parties towards a broken system.) Is there really a place for the courtroom in family law? maybe, but it needs to be tempered with like-minded attorneys, who are more collaborative than adversarial. Litigation has a way of taking two people, who at one time or another cared about each other enough to marry and maybe even have children, and rip their lives to shreds beyond recognition. It turns dislike into pure hatred. It turns tolerance into intolerance.

Mutual respect and renewed confidence leads to solutions. In Germany for example they no longer have adversarial trials when it comes to issues pertaining to children. Judges in Germany no longer tolerate lawyers who try to delay hearings and resolution of issues. The time of uncertainty is itself stressful and leads to destructive behaviour. The role of attorneys in Germany is now de-escalating conflict and the results seem far superior then when they used to escalate conflict. I think the time has come that the public wants psychologically-minded lawyers in family law disputes.

Collaborative Divorce

So just when you thought that mediation was the ultimate dispute resolution process, along came “collaborative lawyering.” Collaborative divorce is a progressive approach to conflict resolution in family law, it facilitates an inexpensive divorce process outside of court. Unlike litigation, collaborative divorce requires cooperation between both attorneys as they help their clients reach a fair solution. The process’ non-adversarial format provides a venue for open dialogue and idea exchange among clients, lawyers and mediators, as well as forensic accountants and other neutral participants. It is a method of dispute resolution whereby the parties and their lawyers contract to settle a matter without involving the court. It is a method of practising law where the parties and the lawyers representing them sign a contract in which they agree to work towards settlement. If the parties are unable to settle and adversarial proceedings are to be filed, the lawyers are required to withdraw. New lawyers must be obtained for trial. In this method, the attorneys must focus on settlement and are free to use their creative problem solving skills. Communication is respectful and the process is future-focused. It works best if several lawyers in the community are trained in collaborative law so there are options for the clients and lawyers to work together. Collaborative practice originated in the United States of America in 1990. It is also practised widely in Canada and has spread to the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand.

What we need is a mind shift among divorce and family law attorneys, a new breed, we need lawyers who lean more towards a therapeutic kind of jurisprudence. Parents also need to understand that what they do and say toward each other has long-term consequences for all parties involved. The things people do with or without the help of their attorneys, have dire consequences that will last for generations to come. Unfortunately divorce is a fact of life and all we can do is to make it a less destructive process. According to research 80 – 85% of family law matters can be resolved without litigation.  When you start a court case, you are starting a war.

Has the time not arrived that law schools start to train lawyers who are able to effectively meet the public’s needs, more psychologically-minded lawyers in the area of divorce and family law?

Source: http://voices.news24.com/bertus-preller/2013/06/the-hostility-lawyers-generate-in-a-divorce/

If you want a collaborative divorce contact:

Maurice Phillips Wisenberg
20th Floor, 2 Long Street, Cape Town, 8000
Telephone: Cape Town Office: +27 21 419 7115
E-mail:  familylaw(@)mpw.co.za
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys
Twitter: @bertuspreller

Onderhoud met Bertus Preller, een van Kaapstad se top egskeiding prokureurs

Huisgenoot 31 Mei 2013
Huisgenoot 31 Mei 2013

Huisgenoot Uitgawe 31 Mei 2013

Voor die kansel dink `n bruidspaar liefs nie aan die moontlikheid dat hul paadjies eendag weer sal skei nie. Maar met sowat een uit vier huwelike wat Suid-Afrika in die skeihof eindig, moet mens weet wat ná `n moontlike verbrokkeling op jou wag.

“Mense is oor die algemeen nie van hul regte bewus as dit by skei kom nie,’’ sê Bertus Preller (48), ‘n prokureur van Kaapstad wat in egskeidings en familieregsake spesialeer.

Daarom het hy ‘n boek geskryf wat die regsaspekte vir leke verduidelik, getitel Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Seperation. Daarin word skeidings uit saamblyverhoudings en gay-egskeidings ook behandel.

“Om te skei is nooit maklik nie, maar as mense besef dit gaan nie oor wenners of verloorders nie, kan die proses redelik maklik wees,’’ sê Bertus. Hy is ook die familieregspesialis van die Health24.com-forum en stigter van eDivorce, ‘n selfdoen aanlyn egskeidingsdiens.

Hy praat ook van personnlike ondervinding, want nie net het hy al in sy loopbaan “seker honderde’’ egskeidings hanteer nie, maar hy het ook al self geskei.  Hy en sy huidige vrou het elk twee kinders uit hul vorige huwelike en een kind saam. “Ek weet hoe belangrik dit is om `n egskeiding vreedsaam op te los. Dit is nie soseer egskeidings  wat altyd skadelik is vir kinders nie maar die konflik in egskeidings wat skadelik is vir die kinders,’’ sê hy.

Wat is die 10 vrae wat  kliënte in `n skeisaak hom die meeste vra? wou Huisgenoot weet. Hier antwoord hy daarop.

1.  Hoeveel kos ’n egskeiding?

Dit hang af of dit bestrede of onbestrede is. ’n Egskeiding is bestrede wanneer die egpaar byvoorbeeld verskil oor hoe hul bates verdeel moet word, hoeveel onderhoud betaal moet word  of wie die hoofversorger van die kinders sal wees. As hulle nie daaroor kan ooreenkom nie en ‘n regter moet eindelik uitspraak gee, kan dit honderde duisende rande beloop. Wanneer rykes en beroemdes skei en daar groot bates op die spel is soos in die egskeiding van die biljoenêr-politikus Tokyo Sexwale en sy vrou Judy, kan die regskoste self miljoene wees, sê Bertus. In 90 persent van alle skeisake word ’n skikkingsooreenkoms gewoonlik voor die hofsaak bereik, dit kan selfs enkele ure voor die tyd of tydens die saak gebeur. Dikwels word baie tyd en geld gemors op ’n saak wat op die ou end buite die hof geskik word. In ‘n bestrede skeisaak kan die prokureurs die dienste van verskeie kenners soos forensiese rekenmeesters en sielkundiges aanvra wat onder eed getuig. Dit jaag die koste verder op.

In ‘n onbestrede egskeiding kom jy en jou huweliksmaat saam oor die voorwaardes van jul egskeiding ooreen – soos die verdeling van bates en by watter ouer die kinders sal woon en watter ouer alternatiewe sorg sal hê. ‘n Skikkingsooreenkoms word dan opgestel, albei ouers onderteken dit en dit word ’n hofbevel gemaak.

Net die eiser verskyn dan in die hof wanneer die saak voorkom. ’n Onbestrede egskeiding kan tussen R800 en R20 000 kos, afhangende van hoe kompleks die skikkingsooreenkoms is en hoe moeilik dit is om te bepaal wie moet toesig oor minderjarige kinders kry.

2. Kan ek vra dat die ander party tot my regskostes en maandelikse onderhoud bydra voordat my egskeiding afgehandel word?

Wanneer ’n egskeiding lank sloer of  een van die huweliksmaats ’n tuisteskepper sonder inkomste is, is daar ‘n tussentydse maatreël om so iemand finansieel te help. Volgens reël 43 kan  jy in die Hooggeregshof daarvoor aansoek doen en volgens reël 58 in die Landdroshof. Die regskoste is  minimaal – prokureurs of advokate wat self verskyn in ‘n onbestrede aansoek in die Hoogeregshof mag nie meer as R426 en in die Landdroshof meer as R 404 vra nie en in ‘n bestrede aansoek nie meer as R 1 066.00 en R 929.00  nie. Prokureurs wat nie self in beide howe verskyn nie en wat ‘n advokaat gebruik mag nie meer as R 1491 in ‘n onbestrede en R 2130 in ‘n bestrede aansoek vra nie en in die Landdroshof R 1 414 en R 2020 vra nie.  Volgens hierdie twee reëls kan ook aansoek gedoen word om die betaling van tydelike onderhoud vir ‘n huweliksmaat en/of die kinders, die verband van die huwelikshuis, paaiemente op voertuie, skoolgeld, mediesefondspremies en selfs verhuisingskoste en ‘n deposito vir ‘n  nuwe blyplek. Omrede die Landdroshowe ook nou jurisdiksie het om egskeidings aan te hoor kan mense nou in enige van die twee howe egskeidings aanhangig maak.

3. Hoe lank sal die skeiproses duur?

Onbestrede egskeidings kan binne vier tot ses weke afgehandel word. Bestrede egskeidings kan tot drie jaar lank neem.

4. Hoe beïnvloed my huweliksbestel (die manier waarop ek getroud is) die verdeling van bates?

By huwelike binne gemeenskap van goedere sal die gesamentlike boedel (die bates minus die laste of skuld) op die datum van die egskeiding gelykop tussen die partye verdeel word, maar erflatings word uitgesluit (indien in testament so bepaal word) en ook geskenke of donasies (in sommige gevalle) wat die paartjie tydens of voor die huwelik aan mekaar gegee het.

Met `n huwelik buite gemeenskap van goedere, word die bates volgens hul  huweliksvoorwaardekontrak verdeel. By pare wat voor 1 November 1984 buite gemeenskap van goedere getroud is, moet die bates soms gelykop verdeel word ooreenkomstig artikel 7(3) van die Egskeidingswet, want dit was voordat die aanwasbedeling ingestel is.

Pare wat ná 1 November 1984 buite gemeenskap van goedere maar sonder die aanwasbedeling getroud is, kan nie eis dat bates van die een na die ander oorgedra word, en sal die vrou slegs ‘n onderhoudseis hê. Waar die aanwas ingesluit is sal die party met die kleiner aanwas geregtig wees op die helfte in die verskil van die onderskeie aanwaste.

5. Is ek geregtig op onderhoud?

Ons reg is ten gunste van die “skoonbreuk-beginsel” – dit beteken dat partye moet ná ’n egskeiding  so gou as moontlik ekonomies onafhanklik van mekaar word.

Die Wet op Egskeiding bepaal wel dat ’n hof een huweliksmaat kan beveel om vir ’n ander onderhoud te betaal. Dit hang onder meer af van die ouderdom van die huweliksmaat wat onderhoud eis, die duur van die huwelik en die lewenstandaard van die partye voor die egskeiding. Daar word ook gekyk hoeveel elkeen tot die verbrokkeling van die huwelik bygedra het.

Die idee dat die huwelik ’n vrou se bron van inkomste vir die res van haar lewe moet wees, is in ons howe aan die uitsterf.

Middeljarige vroue wat hulle jare lank daaran toegewy het om die huishouding te bestuur en die kinders te versorg sal vir ‘n sekere tyd rehabiliterende onderhoud ontvang, sodat hulle opgelei of heropgelei kan word vir ’n werk of beroep.

Permanente onderhoud word toegestaan aan ‘n bejaarde vrou wat lank getroud was, nooit gewerk het nie en nie behoorlik vir haarself sal kan sorg nie en waarskynlik nie weer sal trou nie.

6. Hoe word kinderonderhoud vasgestel?

’n Kind is geregtig op redelike onderhoud vir klere, behuising, tandheelkundige en mediese sorg, onderwys en opleiding en ook ontspanning.

Albei ouers het ‘n plig om die kind volgens hul vermoë te onderhou —  of die kind nou aangeneem is, binne of buite die huwelik gebore is, of uit ‘n eerste of ‘n  latere huwelik.

7. Kan ek ‘n derde party dagvaar wat die oorsaak van die egskeiding was?

In ons howe gaan egskeiding eerder oor die onherstelbare verbrokkeling van die huwelik as om die skuld daarvoor op een van die twee partye te pak. Tog kan ’n onskuldige party skadevergoeding van ’n derde party eis met wie daar owerspel gepleeg is.

8. Wie kry die kinders?

Albei ouers moet met ‘n egskeiding besluit by watter ouer die kind gaan woon en wat die ander ouer se besoekregte sal wees. ’n Egskeiding word net toegestaan as die hof tevrede is dat hierdie reëlings in die kinders se beste belang is. Ons howe besluit nie volgens geslag of ‘n pa of ma die bekwaamste is om ‘n kind te versorg.

9. Kan die kinders sê  by wie hulle wil bly?

Kragtens die nuwe Kinderwet moet die kind se mening oorweeg word met die besluit oor toesig. As kinders die nodige volwassenheid bereik het, gewoonlik vanaf 13, het hulle ‘n sê  in enigiets wat hul versorging raak.

10. Sal die egskeiding ons lewenstandaard beïnvloed?

’n Vrou se inkomste daal gewoonlik aansienlik ná ’n egskeiding. Wanneer ’n gesin saamwoon, word albei se inkomste gebruik om die huishouding se uitgawes te betaal. Ná ’n egskeiding moet  twee huishoudings met daardie inkomste onderhou.  Ondersoeke wys deurgaans geskeide vroue, veral dié met kinders, is meer kwesbaarder vir armoede as geskeide mans is.

Volg Bertus Preller op Twitter: @bertuspreller of besoek http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

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