Divorce Attorney Cape Town

Victory for Unmarried Parents in High Court Ruling over Interim Maintenance


child support

A ruling by the Eastern Cape High Court granting unmarried parents who have been in “a life partnership” equal rights to married parents was an “important victory” in child maintenance cases.

The Applicant (mother) approached the Eastern Cape High Court in East London by way of urgency for an order, inter alia, that the Family Advocate institute an enquiry and furnish a report regarding the parental rights and responsibilities of the mother and father and that pending such a report the mother remained the primary carer of the child. Pending the report by the Family Advocate the father was entitled to reasonable contact with the child at all reasonable times every alternate weekend from a Saturday morning at 09h00 until 17h00 and from 09h00 until 17h00 on the Sunday, reasonable telephonic contact, special occasions such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc.

The interesting part of the application was the fact that the mother also asked the court for an order that the father contribute to the child’s maintenance, by the payment of the sum of R3 300.00 per month pending finalisation of the investigation by the Family Advocate into the parental issues and/or until the court made a proper maintenance order.

Facts of the case

The Applicant was the mother of a minor child of approximately 3 years old and the father of the child was the Respondent in the case.  At the time of the child’s birth the child’s parents were in a permanent life-partnership relationship (not married) and thus acquired full and equal parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.

The parties separated and the mother brought an application in the High Court,  the purpose of the application was to confirm and to grant certain rights to both parents so that in the best interest of their minor child, there was certainty in respect of his primary care contact with the child by both parents as well as maintenance to support his basic needs.

In her papers the mother averred that the minor child and she had been subjected to harm at the instance of the father who has threatened to remove the minor child from the care of the applicant.  The parties were no longer staying together and the child was living in the mother’s care.

The court granted leave to the mother to move the court application as a matter of urgency only on the basis that the father wanted to remove the child from her care. The Respondent’s counsel argued that is that the matter was not urgent and therefore the Court could deal with the mother’s maintenance claim in the High Court.

The court emphasized the fact that the High Court has always been regarded as the upper guardian of all minors in all matters concerning children.  Section 28(1) of the Constitution provides, inter alia, that every child has the right to family care or parental care when removed from the family environment.  To basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services.  To be protected from maltreatment neglect, abuse or degradation.  It is also important to mention that a child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

It is a common practice for some practitioners who appear in the High Court to apply for the dismissal of an application on the only ground that it is not urgent.  In this matter the court found that the application was urgent due to the threat that the father made to remove the child.

A co-holder of parental responsibilities has the right to apply to the High Court, divorce Court or to the Children’s Court for an order suspending for a period or terminating any or all the parental responsibilities and rights which a specific person has in respect of a child.  Or extending or circumscribing the exercise by that person of the parental responsibilities and rights that person has in respect of a child.  Such application may be combined with an application in terms of section 23 of the Children’s Act for the assignment of contact and care in respect of the child to the applicant in terms of that section.  In other words the parental rights and responsibilities as well as guardianship of a minor child can be brought before the High Court.

The parties in this application lived in a permanent life partnership as though they were a married couple.  In the event that they had been married, which they were not, they would have been able to make use of Rule 43 proceedings, a mechanism, inter alia, for speedy and effective resolution of maintenance for minor children pending finalisation of the divorce.  In this case there was no pending matrimonial action and therefore, in the court’s view, the facts of the case were distinguishable from a situation where the provisions of Rule 43 find application.

Notwithstanding the aforesaid the court found that there was nothing preventing the Court from dealing with a maintenance issue even if it is a provisional order of maintenance pending the finalization of the maintenance court enquiry.  The court’s view was that in all maintenance matters involving children the court should endeavour to see to it that they are dealt with as expeditious as is practically possible and found that it was not be in the best interests of a child if the maintenance issue had to be referred back to the maintenance court especially when there was already an indication that it will only be dealt with sometime in a few months because of the busy court roll at the maintenance court.

It is therefore possible for an unmarried mother to obtain urgent interim relief for maintenance of a child pending an investigation by  the Family Advocate’s Office into the care and contact issues of a child.

Trauma van teister: Só trek jy die streep Die Wet op Teistering, Wet 17 van 2011


Teistering

Die Artikel het in Vrouekeur in September 2013 verskyn

“Ek gaan jou doodmaak”

‘n Harde stem wat oor die foon gil: “Jy is ‘n slet!”

“Mamma wat is ‘n slot?” wou haar klein seuntjie weet.

Die einde van 2011 was ‘n vreesbevange tydperk vir Suzette Malherbe* van Natal nadat sy aan ‘n gesprek op radio deelgeneem het.

Iemand wat haar op ‘n program hoor gesels het, het al haar nommers opgesoek en haar vreemde tye van die dag, van verskillende nommers en selfs in die oggendure, soos 3:00 die nag gebel. Die persoon het ook Facebook en smsse ingespan om haar te teister.

“Ek gesels gereeld oor die radio en vertel van God. Die praatjie waarna die teisteraar verwys het, wanneer hy bel, was juis hieroor. Hy het gesê hy het my op die radio gehoor. Hierdie was heel in die begin van my publieke lewe, so dit was baie scary. Terwyl dit gebeur het was ek absoluut in skok. As enkelmamma was ek vreeslik besorg oor my dogtertjie gedurende hierdie tyd. Ek het bly hoop dit sal ophou. Die fout wat ek gemaak het was om met die persoon te kommunikeer en reaksie te wys.Gelukkig het die teistering opgehou toe ek ophou reaksie gee. Ek het glad nie my foon geantwoord as ek gesien het dit is ‘n onbekende nommer nie en ek is van Facebook af vir ‘n tyd. Wanneer iemand jou teister, moenie met die persoon kommunikeer nie. Ek het baie geleer, soos om my foon op “silent” te sit deur die aand, asook nie sommer vreemde nommers te antwoord nie”.

Emosioneel is dit baie uitmergelend.

“Ek was vreesbevange daardie tyd. Veral oor die persoon dreigend was. Ek glo dat wanneer iemand jou probeer intimideer en teister die doel daarvan is om jou stil en of bang te maak. Deur uit te praat en standpunt in te neem wys jy aan die persoon dat dit nie die gewensde reaksie het nie. Nà die insident het ek en my dogtertjie na ‘n sekuriteitskompleks getrek. Ek is ook baie meer bewus van ons persoonlike sekuriteit asook om nie vreemde nommers te antwoord nie”.

Die teistering het Suzette se werk ook beïnvloed, want die foon het enige tyd van die dag of nag, tuis of by die werk gelui.  

“Die persoon was baie irrasioneel. Hy sou dreigende Facebookboodskappe stuur soos: “God het vir my gesê ek moet jou doodmaak” of “ek maak net seker jy lewe nog”. Aanvanklik was ek baie ontsteld en wou weet wie dit is en hoekom hy my lewe so versuur. My raad aan ander mense in dieselfde bootjie sal wees om so vinnig moontlik hulp te soek. Moenie dat die persoon enigsins jou lewe versuur nie. Daar is grense en sulke mense verbreek emosionele en soms fisiese grense ook as daar nie vinnig genoeg iets hieromtrent gedoen word nie.

Niemand het die reg om ‘n ander persoon so disrespekvol te hanteer nie. Deur op te staan vir jouself en jou gesin teen iemand wat jou lewe versuur deur te teister, doen jy die regte ding. Deur stil te bly, is dit asof jy toestemming aan die persoon gee om dit aan te hou doen”.

Bertus Preller is ‘n Kaapse egskeidingsprokureur. Hy het meer as 21 jaar ervaring in wetlike aspekte en praktiseer in Kaapstad. Hy spesialiseer in familie- en egskeidingsreg en is ook die skrywer van “Everyone’s Guide To Divorce and Separation” van Zebra Press Uitgewers.

Hy help hier om die Wet op Teistering, Wet 17 van 2011 aan Vrouekeurlesers te verduidelik:

Hoe werk die wet op die beskerming van teistering?

Die nuwe Wet op Teistering, wat 2011 in werking gestel is, poog om slagoffers van teistering, ook seksuele teistering te beskerm as deel van die reg van enige Suid-Afrikaner om hul lewe vry van enige vorm van geweld deur openbare asook private bronne te lei.

Die implikasie hiervan is dat mense nie meer ‘n anonieme SMS met een of ander seksuele ondertoon kan aanstuur nie. Selfs ‘n skoolboelie kan homself nou blootstel aan regstappe teen hom. 

Wanneer teister ‘n persoon iemand anders? Wanneer is iemand net irriterend en wanneer gaan dit oor in teistering?

Teistering kan die vorm aanneem van briewe, epos, smsse en Facebookboodskappe. Die wet bepaal dat enigiemand wat voel hul word op dié wyse geteister, met of sonder ‘n regsverteenwoordiger, kan aansoek doen om ‘n beskermingsbevel by sy of haar plaaslike hof.

Die hoofdoel van dié wetgewing is: “om slagoffers van teistering doeltreffend te beskerm teen gedrag wat neerkom op teistering”.

Die teisterwet kan ook ‘n toevoeging wees tot die Huishoudelike geweldwet, wat hom beywer vir ‘n afname in die wydverspreide mishandeling van vroue, kinders en mense met gestremdhede.

Watter tipes leed word aangerig? Byvoorbeeld geestelike, psigologiese of fisiese leed of ekonomiese skade?

Volgens dié wet word die volgende as teistering beskou:

Om iemand direk of indirek by gedrag te betrek wat die ander persoon skade aandoen of die ander persoon laat glo dat hy of sy sal skade gaan ly. Dit kan gedoen word deur hulle te agtervolg, dop te hou, aanhoudend te probeer kontak maak met die slagoffer of sy/haar familie. Dit sluit ook in om by of naby die persoon se huis of werk of plek waar hulle studeer leeg te lê of rond te hang.

Teistering kan ook plaasvind wanneer iemand briewe, pakkies, telegramme, fakse, epos of onwelkome geskenke vir die ander party stuur. Dit sluit ook in dat iemand boodskappe of pakkies los waar hulle weet die slagoffer gaan dit vind of daarvan te wete kom.

Seksuele teistering kan plaasvind wanneer iemand onwelkome seksuele aandag van ‘n persoon ontvang as die persoon wat dit uitdeel wéét dat die aandag onwelkom is. Dit sluit ook eksplisiete sowel as implisiete onwelvoeglike gedrag in. Ander maniere van seksuele teistering is seksuele voorstelle of boodskappe of aanmerkings met ‘n seksuele ondertoon wanneer die persoon wat dit sê sou kon voorsien dat die ontvang hierdeur geïntimideer, in die gesit gevat of verneder sal voel.

Seksuele teistering kan ook plaasvind as iemand ‘n beloning of belofte impliseer vir enige gedrag wat verband hou met ‘n seksueel georiënteerde versoek. Of wanneer daar ‘n direkte of indirekte bedreiging of weerhouding van voorregte gekoppel word aan die weiering om mee te doen aan ‘n seksueel georiënteerde versoek.

Teen watter tipes skade beskerm die Wet op Teistering mense?

Slagoffers wat geteister word kan psigiese, fisiese en psigologiese skade ly of ekonomies seerkry.

Enigeen wat glo hulle word deur ‘n ander persoon geteister mag volgens hierdie wetgewing aansoek doen om ‘n beskermingsbevel. ‘n Kind jonger as agtien of enige ander persoon mag ter wille van ‘n kind aansoek doen om ‘n beskermingsbevel sonder die bystand of toestemming van die kind se ouers.

Wanneer iemand nie in die posisie is om self aansoek om so ‘n bevel te doen nie, mag enige persoon wat die slagoffer se belange op die hart dra en die teistering wil stop aansoek doen om ‘n beskermingsbevel in belang van die persoon wat geteister word.

Anders as wat baie mense dink, hoef die persoon wat geteister word nie noodwendig in ‘n verhouding met die teisteraar te wees of gewees het om aansoek te doen vir ‘n beskermingsbevel nie.

“Ek kry teister-epos, wat moet ek doen?”

As iemand jou elektronies teister en jy weet nie wie dit is nie, kan die hof deur middel van die Wet op Teistering gelas dat die teisteraar se elektroniese besonderhede bekend gemaak word. Ondersoeke by die diensverskaffers of deur die polisie kan gelas word om vas te stel wie die teisteraar is.  

Wat sal gebeur wanneer ek ‘n teisteraar aankla?

Volgens die Wet op teistering word daar, indien daar genoegsame bewys van teistering en gepaardgaande skade  is, ‘n tydelike-hofbevel uitgereik, sonder dat die teisteraar betrek word, gebasseer op die klaer se kant van die storie. Die hof stel dan ‘n datum vas sodat die persoon teen wie die bevel uitgereik is in die hof kan verskyn om die aansoek teë te staan, voordat dit ‘n finale hofbevel word.

Die hof het die mag om ‘n tydelike hofbevel finaal te maak deur ‘n persoon te verbied om enige kontak, ook met die hulp van ‘n tweede of derde party, met die klaer te maak. In praktyk beteken dit dat ‘n beskermingsbevel aangepas word by die behoeftes van die klaer en sy of haar spesifieke situasie. Daar mag in sekere gevalle selfs ‘n lasbrief vir in hegtenisname deur die hof aan die teisteraar uitgereik word.

Wat kan die hof doen as die teisteraar die beskermingsbevel minag?

As ‘n persoon enige beperkings, voorwaardes of verantwoordelikheid wat verband hou met die beskermingsbevel verontagsaam of vals verklarings aflê, stel hy of sy hulle bloot aan vervolging. So ‘n persoon kan beboet word of tronkstraf, tot en met vyf jaar lank,  ontvang.

‘n Hof mag as deel van ‘n beskermingsbevel ‘n tydelike bevel uitreik om die klaer te beskerm teen enige verdere teistering, te keer dat die teisteraar met behulp van ander persone aanhou om die klaer te teister en om die teisteraar te keer om enige van die ander oortredings wat in die beskermingsbevel uiteengesit is te begaan tot tyd en wyl die hof sy finale beslissing gelewer het.

Die hof kan ook toevoegings en voorwaardes by die tydelike bevel voeg om te verseker dat die klaer veilig en beskermd is van enige teistering deur die aangeklaagde of enigeen wat die aangeklaagde help om die klaer te teister.

As deel hiervan mag die hof gelas dat ‘n lid van die Suid-Afrikaanse polisiediens enige wapen in besit of bereik van die teisteraar konfiskeer in terme van die vuurwapenwet.

Die fisiese tuis- en werkadres van die aangeklaagde persoon mag nie deel uitmaak van die beskermingsbevel nie, tensy dit genoodsaak word deur die situasie. Die hof mag ook gelas dat die klaer se adres of blyplek nie bekend gemaak word nie, ten einde die klaer se veiligheid te verseker.

Die hof mag nie weier om ‘n beskermingsbevel uit te reik nie, tensy die aangeklaagde klaar of in die proses is om self ‘n klag van agtervolging teen die klaer te lê in terme van die huishoudelike geweld wet.

Waar kan ek hulp kry?

Wanneer jy geteister word en ‘n klag wil lê kan jy aansoek doen by enige magistraathof waar jy bly of werk of by die hof waar die teisteraar bly of werk of by die fisiese plek waar die teistering plaasgevind het.

NOG BRONNE:

http://www.divorceattorney.co.za/divorce-attorney-divorce-blog-cape-town/divorce-attorney-cape-town-4/

http://www.justice.gov.za/forms/form_pha.html

http://www.divorcelaws.co.za

 

 

 

Media interview with Divorce Law and Family Law Specialist Bertus Preller


Family Law and Divorce Law Attorney Bertus Preller
Family Law and Divorce Law Attorney Bertus Preller

Bertus Preller, was recently interviewed in connection with his book “Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation” published by Random House Struik (Zebra Press – 2013). So that you can get to know Bertus better, we have included excerpts from that interview.

How long have you been involved in law?

I was admitted as an attorney in 1989 and have almost 25 years’ experience of the law.

What are some examples of the types of cases that you handle?

I represent people in divorce, both in local and international divorce cases, care and contact (custody) disputes, access (visitation) / parental disputes, parenting plans, unmarried father’s rights, paternity cases, grandparents’ rights,  step-parent and non-parent care and contact cases, international child abduction (Hague Convention) cases, relocation disputes, division of property, spousal maintenance and child maintenance matters, domestic violence and protection orders, child abuse cases, enforcement actions (where a person is seeking to enforce a court order), same-sex cases, cohabitation agreements, antenuptial agreements,  family law mediation and collaborative divorce law,  and other family law related matters. It also includes Mediation. In addition to being a litigator, I have also acted as a Mediator for many years.

Did you always want to be an attorney?

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved the idea of fighting for people who need help and helping the underdog. It was my goal, since being at high school in Grey College, to become an attorney.

How stressful is your work?

Being a family law attorney can be stressful. Our entire legal system is based on adversity and on two sides negotiating, or fighting in court, to achieve a resolution to their disputes. These negotiations, court appearances, and dealing with clients, judges and other attorneys are not exactly pleasant all the time. These relations require one to be tough, emotionally detached and sometimes even heartless. It is not fun, not glamorous and sometimes it does get ugly. The stress has a lot to do with the fact that almost everything you do is urgent and can have serious financial implications  if you mess up in court, there are going to be major implications for your client. Having said this, I love to make a difference in people’s lives, especially where children are involved.

How do you spend your day/week?

My job duties include appearing in court on behalf of clients, drafting legal documents, communicating by letter and email, conducting consultations, performing legal research, reviewing financial documents, interviewing clients, talking to attorneys, and working with psychologists, and other experts. My day is varied, with no two days being exactly alike. The largest percentage of my work-week consists of writing letters and emails, talking on the telephone, reviewing emails and correspondence, consulting with clients, drafting pleadings, reviewing financial records, and preparing for court hearings – not the kind of stuff you see on TV shows or in the movies.

Do you have celebrity clients?

Due to the nature of my work I am not able to disclose the identities of my clients, but yes, I have clients who appeared on Survivor Africa, Master Chef South Africa, actors, actresses, politicians, television personalities and some high net worth individuals.

 Do you have a “profile” of the ideal family law attorney?

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an “ideal” family law attorney. Each person has his/her own unique strengths. In appointing an attorney, I would look for someone with honesty and integrity, someone with a good work ethic, who is persuasive and communicates well, both verbally and in writing, someone who is empathetic, with excellent people-skills and a passion for helping others and practicing family law.

What is your approach to handling cases?

I believe that it is the duty of an attorney to work with his/her client as part of a team approach. Too many attorneys have a “give me the ball and I’ll run with it” philosophy, and they fail to communicate with the client during the course of the case. I take a completely different approach. After all, it is the client’s case. My job, is to communicate with my client, help determine the proper objectives, formulate a game-plan, and work hard to make sure that the client’s needs are effectively met. I understand that my client is going through what is probably the most difficult and stressful time in her/his life and need someone who will look for logical, peaceful solutions but will also be willing to aggressively fight for his/her rights if that becomes at all necessary.

Does dealing with other people’s failed relationships make you feel cynical about love at all?

I believe in marriage. It would be naive to think that dealing with divorce and separation (and all the trauma and distress that goes with it) on a daily basis, will not make one sceptical about marriage to a certain extent. I think the problem does not lie in the institution of marriage or that relationships that end in divorce were never meant to be. It is my view that the reason for many problems that we experience in relationships stems from the fact that people are fickle and that our circumstances and life experiences change and shape us every day. A healthy relationship is an evolving relationship and each partner should learn and grow through the relationship, and often through the conflicts. Marriage can be described as a series of peaks and troughs and as long as the peaks outweigh the troughs then you will be okay.

What have bad divorces taught you about what goes into a happy marriage?

There is not one universal key that unlocks the door to a happy and healthy marriage or relationship. There is a saying that a relationship is not a place where you go to take, it is a place where you go to give. Marriage for many of us will undoubtedly be the biggest financial and personal transaction of your entire life. You need to look at your partner and realize that you are not going to change him or her. Ask yourself this: “Does my partner have the basic qualities that matter to me, characteristics that are not going to change over time?” Remember that it is not all about the wedding cake, the wedding ceremony, the wedding gifts or the wedding dress. It takes a lot of work and effort to make it work. Lack of communication tops the list of the reasons for divorce. There is the cliché that women want men to know what they want and what they are thinking without ever having to tell them, but the reality is that couples need to talk and express their feelings and fears to their spouse. It is when spouses only start thinking about their own wants and needs and no longer function as a “team”, that things start to fall apart. Unfortunately in many instances our ability to learn about relationships shuts down at the point when the marriage begins to get tough and just because couples develop disagreements, I am sure that many marriages could have been saved if the couples persevered just a little more. Conflict should be seen as an inevitable part of relationships. One of the secrets to a good marriage is to find your equal partner, not a partner who is going to dominate or control you or who you can dominate or control. Any relationship  for it to work must be based on mutual respect, common purpose and of course trust. When a couple start to lose one of those ingredients, the wheels come off.

Is it possible to recover after a divorce?

Most individuals blame their ex-spouses. I think that if you can step back and say, “This is what I have done wrong and this is what I will change”, you have something powerful to teach others who go through the same issues. In many divorces, the problems that caused the divorce have existed in the relationship long before the marriage and were either not acknowledged or were ignored in the hope that marriage might heal the problems. But that is not what happens in life. Nobody can make you feel better about yourself. Someone wise once said that it takes two wholes to make a marriage, not two halves.

To find out more about Bertus Preller, visit his webpage at http://www.divorceattorney.co.za or follow him on Twitter @bertuspreller or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys.

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