Divorce Attorney Cape Town

Latest Divorce Trends South Africa


divorce statistics

Divorce Trends in South Africa

According to the latest statistics issued by Stats SA there is a consistent decline in the number of people getting married in South Africa.

There has also been a decline in customary marriages, indicating a decrease of 12,5% from the previous year. Civil unions (Gay and Lesbian) registered in South Africa increased by 15,2%. These figures are indicative of the fact that less and less people are opting for marriage.

According to the latest data the crude divorce rate was 0,5 divorces per 1 000 estimated resident population. The number indicates an increase of 3,4% divorces from the previous year.

Reasons for Divorce

According to a survey on the Divorce Laws Website South Africans had stated that the following reasons were the main reasons for divorce:

  1. Lack of Communication 23.47%
  2. Adultery / Cheating 21.6%
  3. Abuse 11.99%
  4. Lack of Intimacy / Sex 10.86%
  5. Falling out of love 7.24%
  6. Finances 5.74%
  7. Addiction 4.87%
  8. Involvement of parents 3.37%
  9. Religious Differences 2.25%

Characteristics of plaintiffs

The website www.divorcelaws.co.za, South Africa’s premier resource on Divorce and Family Law attracted 465 420 unique visitors in South Africa during the period 1 August 2015 to 30 August 2016. It is interesting to note that over 60% of those visitors were female in comparison to 40% being male. Of these visitors 59.56% were from Gauteng, 21.70% were from the Western Cape, 11.29% were from KwaZulu-Natal, 3.15% were from the Eastern Cape, 1.17% were from the Free State, 1.12% were from North West, 0.98% were from Limpopo, 0.73% were from Mpumalanga and 0.25% were from the Northern Cape. Sandton, 20.59% seems to be the area from where most people requested information on divorce, maintenance, parental rights, custody, domestic violence and general family law, followed by Cape Town 20.56%, Pretoria 15.23%, Johannesburg 8.92%, Durban 6.91%, Centurion 3.01%, Roodepoort 2.84%, Port Elizabeth 1.85%, Krugersdorp 1.66% and Randburg 1.48%.

More wives 51,7% than husbands 34,4% initiated the divorce according to the latest data. With the exception of women from the black African population who had a lower proportion of plaintiffs 44,1%, the proportion of women plaintiffs from the other population groups was above 50,0%.

White population group 57,8%, coloured population group 56,9% and Indian/Asian population group 54,6% were women. However, it should also be noted that the black African population group had a much higher proportion of divorces with unspecified sex of the plaintiff 17,3%.

Population Groups

Couples from the white population group dominated the number of divorces until 2007 thereafter, the black African couples had the highest number of divorces up until 2014. In 2003, 40,0% of the divorcees were from the white population group whereas 24,3% came were from the black African population group. By 2014, 37,1% of the divorcees were from the black African population group and 28,2% from the white population group. The proportions of the divorcees from the coloured and the Indian/Asian population groups were quite constant during the twelve-year period. However, there was a prominent increase in the proportions of divorcees from the coloured population group (from 16,3% in 2013 to 20,2% in 2014) which may have affected the result. Generally, there was an increase in the proportion of divorces for black Africans and decline for white population group from 2003 to 2014.

Occupation of Plaintiffs

It is noted that a high proportion of the plaintiffs 28,2% of the men and 30,9% of the women did not indicate the type of occupation they were engaged in at the time of divorce. In addition, 15,2% and 22,1% of the men and women respectively were not economically active at the time of divorce.

 

Most plaintiffs were:

  • professional, semi-professionals and technical occupations 12,0%;
  • managers and administrators 9,3%; and
  • 9,2% in clerical and sales occupations.

Some differences were observed regarding the type of occupation of men and women. The men who initiated the divorce were largely managers and administrators 14,5% while the women were mainly in professional, semi-professionals and technical occupations 14,3%.

Number of times married

Results presented that divorce cases for both men and women were mainly from individuals who had married once. About 80,0% of divorces for men and women were from first-time marriages compared to 12,4% of men and 10,9% of women from second-time marriages. Around 2,0% of men and women were getting divorced for at least the third time.

Age at the time of divorce

The median ages at divorce were 43 years for men and 40 years for women, indicating that generally, men were older than women, with a difference of about three years. The pattern of median ages in 2014 by population group shows that black African and white men had the highest median age of 44 years while women from the other population group had the lowest median age 33 years. The difference in the median ages at the time of divorce for men and women was higher among the other population group (ten years) than among black African, coloured, Indian/Asian and white population groups. Although there were differences in the ages at which most men and women from the various population groups divorced, the age patterns were quite similar. The data revealed that there were fewer divorces among the younger less than 25 years old and the older (65 years and older) divorcees. For men, the peak age group at divorce was 40 to 44 for all population groups. In the case of women, the peak age group for coloured and white population groups was 40 to 44 and the black African and Indian/Asian was 35 to 39.

Duration of marriage of divorcing couples

Statistics from the annual divorce data do not give a comprehensive picture of the number of marriages ending in divorce. The largest number 27,3% of the divorces were for marriages that lasted between five and nine years. This group is followed by marriages that lasted between ten and fourteen years 18,7% and marriages that lasted for less than five years 18,4%. Thus 45,7% of the 24 689 divorces in 2014 were marriages that lasted for less than 10 years. According to results irrespective of the population group, the highest proportion of divorces occurred to couples who had been married for five to nine years. Thus 32,6% of divorces from the black African; 25,6% from both coloured and white; 24,4% from the Indian/Asian population groups were marriages that lasted between five and nine years. For the white population an equally high proportion 23,7% of divorces occurred in the first five years. Furthermore, for all population groups, after nine years of marriage, the proportion of divorces declined as the duration of marriage increased.

Divorces involving couples with minor children

In 2014, 13 676 55,4% of the 24 689 divorces had children younger than 18 years. The coloured and the white population groups had the highest 64,9 and the lowest 46,2% percentages respectively. The distribution of the number of children affected by divorce shows that 39,1% were from the black African population group; 24,9% from the coloured population group; 23,3% from the white population group and 5,6% from the Indian/Asian population group.

Source: http://voices.news24.com/bertus-preller/2016/09/latest-divorce-trends-south-africa/

 

The Marriage Rate Continues to Decline.


Living-Together

Will Valentine’s Day, always a popular moment for popping the question, see less marriage proposals this year than in past?

Information provided by Statistics South Africa in 2014 shows that the highest number of marriages was recorded in 2008 and the lowest number in 2012 which represents a decrease of more than 10% from those marriages recorded in 2008.

The age-old message about marriage that has been communicated by parents that “two are stronger than one” is now brushing up against a 21st-century reality: The number of married households in most countries including South Africa has fallen. Some researchers calls it “The Marriage Crisis”.  Today’s young adults in the US are on track to have the lowest rates of marriage by age 40 compared to any previous generation. If the current pace continues, more than 30% of millennial women will remain unmarried by age 40.

There are several reasons behind the declining marriage rate. The importance of marriage has been fading for years. More couples are living together without getting married, and some are raising families.

Also, marriage used to be the starting point for young adults. They got hitched early and built a life together. Now, many people feel they have to be more established, especially financially, before they walk down the aisle.

In 2013, the economist David H Author found that, “Sharp declines in the earning power of non-college males combined with the economic self-sufficiency of women rising educational attainment, falling gender gap and greater female control over fertility choices have reduced the economic value of marriage for women.”

Sweden has one of the lowest rates of marriage in the world and only 20% of the population bother to marry. In France and Britain it’s about a third. While marriage is in decline, unmarried cohabitation is on the rise.

U.Va. psychology professor Robert Emery says that, in the past, people thought of marriage as “more of a business-like relationship.” Women often received financial support from their husbands and women often provided household and child-rearing labour. Marriage rates fell and divorce rates rose when people started thinking less with their wallets and more with their hearts.

In the US the number of married households fell to 50.5% in 2012 from a high of about 72% in 1960. Among the less well educated, the number of married households has fallen even more. Research indicates that those who find themselves already lower on the socioeconomic ladder may be less likely to ever marry.

The United States has spent approximately one billion dollars since 2006 trying to educate low income Americans of the value of marriage with the goal of minimising divorce and single parent families. President Obama wrote in “The Audacity of Hope” that expanding such marriage education services to low income couples “should be something everybody can agree on.”

Researchers at UCLA however found that the poor not only value marriage just as much as those with more income, they actually have a better grip of the values needed to make a marriage work than wealthier people. Compared to the affluent, poor people “were more focused on the role of a good job, and an adequate income, and having some savings as the important factors in having a successful marriage,” the study’s lead author, social psychologist Benjamin Karney said.

Feminists have claimed that they, have the answer to Freud’s question about “What do women really want?” According to them, women’s utmost desire is to be equal to men and independent of them. Feminists created the myth that men and women are interchangeable and, except for donating sperm, women can be totally independent of men. However data in the US shows that by the time women reach their 30’s, about 70%of them are married and in marriage data we can certainly see the pull between a particular powerful set of values contesting with strong biological needs and the desire for equality struggle with the need for connection and relationship.

One should never underestimate marriage’s economic benefits. In a recent study in the US it was found that children being raised by married parents is generally connected to better economic wellbeing for young adults. So is being married as an adult and that growing up with both parents’ increases your odds of becoming highly educated, which in turn leads to higher odds of being married as an adult.

“Divorce causes a decrease in wealth that is larger than just splitting a couple’s assets in half,” said Jay Zagorsky, an Ohio State University economist. “If you really want to increase your wealth, get married and stay married.” “Marriage carries a sense of meaning, purpose, direction and stability that tends to benefit adults and particularly children. People who get married have an hope of sexual fidelity, and that fidelity tends to engender a sense of trust and security.

Latest marriage statistics in South Africa

Generally, the warmer months (beginning from September and peaking in December) are the most popular months for marriages. The results also show that marriages tends to peak in either March or April depending on the month of Easter holidays for that particular year. In 2012, the highest number of marriages took place in December. July recorded the lowest number of marriages. The results further indicate that, in 2012, the highest number of all marriages was registered in Gauteng (25,0%) and the lowest in Northern Cape (3,1%).

North West (76,1%) had the highest proportion of its marriages conducted by civil marriage officers whereas Western Cape recorded the highest proportion (44,2%) of marriages conducted by religious marriage officers.

A majority of the marriages in 2012 for both bridegrooms and brides were first-time marriages. For bridegrooms, there were (82,9%) bachelors, (3,3%) divorcees and (1,3%) widowers. For the brides, (87,4%) were spinsters whilst (2,2%) were divorcees and (1,0%) were widows. Provincial distribution shows that all provinces had the highest proportion of both bridegrooms and brides marrying for the first time, particularly brides in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo where 90,2% and 90,8% respectively were spinsters at the time of marriage

Irrespective of their marital status, men generally married women who had never been married (spinsters). Thus, (94,2%) spinsters, (1,0%) divorcees and (0,9%) widows were married by bachelors. In addition, irrespective of the fact that more divorcees and widowers married spinsters, the proportion of male divorcees who married female divorcees (16,2%) was higher than the proportion that married widows (1,2%). Similarly, the proportion of widowers who married widows (15,0%) was higher than the proportion that married female divorcees (1,5%).

The average ages of first-time brides remained at 29 years, while for bridegrooms the average age was 33 years. The average ages for divorcees for male were generally at 52 years. In comparison, the average age of female divorcees increased to 47 years. Despite the fact that men generally marry younger women, data in indicate that (14,8%) bridegrooms were younger than their brides whilst  (7,6%) were of the same age as their brides.

Source: http://voices.news24.com/bertus-preller/2015/02/marriage-rate-decline/

Bertus Preller

Divorce and Family Law Lawyer

Bertus Preller & Associates Inc., Cape Town

Website: http://www.divorcelaws.co.za and http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

Twitter: @bertuspreller

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys

Tel: 021 422 2461

Hiding assets in a divorce.


In a recent matter before the Supreme Court of Appeal in the case of DEB v MGB 2014 ZASCA 137, the court expressed its disapproval of parties in divorce proceedings who does not properly disclose their assets. The attitude of many husbands, particularly in relation to money claims where they control the money and assets, can be characterized as “catch me if you can”.

They set themselves up as immovable objects in the hopes that they will wear down the other party. They use every means to do so. They fail to discover and disclose properly, fail to provide any particulars of assets within their peculiar knowledge and generally delay and obfuscate in the hope that they will not be “caught” and have to disgorge what is in law due to the other party.

In this matter the husband clearly failed to comply with the provisions of s 7 of the Act. He delayed providing what were obviously relevant documents until the last minute and then did not discover them. He declined to provide any documents concerning the financial position of one of his businesses. He did not provide documents which could be used to trace assets derived from the excluded assets. He did not prove that documents relating to another business were furnished timeously or at all pursuant to a subpoena issued after initially claiming that he could not furnish these without the consent of his co-trustees. He inexplicably did not testify and then took a technical point concerning documentary proof.

The court stated that the approach of the husband deserved censure and may have warranted a punitive costs order at the trial.

In this matter the husband was ordered to pay the wife an amount of R 6.4 million and to transfer half of a loan account of approximately R 11 million to her. The husband was also ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.

Compiled by Bertus Preller – Family Law and Divorce Attorney

http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

Ingredients for a successful marriage – a Divorce Attorney’s perspective


Successful Relationships

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. 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. Many people get married and expect to live a fairy-tale but that is surely not the reality. Couples fight about trivial things, disagree on many issues such as the finances and children. Many people refuse to grow and blame their partners for all of the problems in the marriage instead of taking responsibility for their actions. Having said this, both parties must be willing to change for the better and if one refuses to do so, the relationship will be in trouble.

Keys to a happy relationship

The key to any happy and healthy marriage really is communication. Many of my divorce clients, when asked for the reason for the breakdown of their relationship, respond with the words “We grew apart” or “We have nothing in common any longer”. It is so important to be an active contestant in your own marriage instead of a passive spouse. In happy marriages there are no secret vendettas or agendas. Lack of trust is an clear killer, and harbouring bitterness and carrying grudges does not make for contentment. It all comes back to commitment and that, in tough times, you don’t even allow yourself to think of getting out. Couples must understand that not every disagreement has to end up as a full blown argument and it is not necessary to win each and every argument or to be always right. Sometimes rather let it be. It is also true that no marriage can survive without some sort of conflict, whether major or minor but the key is to make sure that the issues are addressed in a controlled and dignified manner, without personal mud-slinging or insults.

How to deal with in-laws?

I do not believe in divided loyalties at all. Once you marry someone, your loyalty and devotion first is to your partner and the family that you two create together. I am not saying that you should not be close to your extended family but if your mother-in-law for example is continually butting into your life and your relationship and offering opinions and solutions and you feel as if your husband is always taking her side rather than yours, then, it becomes your husband’s problem and not yours. Each person should take care of his/her own family tree, since you have the most history with your mother, and your husband the most with his parents. So, if you have a mother who is constantly on your husband’s case about how you should to be raising your children, stand up and say something to her. Never make it your husband’s fight. And, if your mother-in-law is drives you up the wall, tell your husband to deal with her. I have seen many cases where the in-laws became one of the reasons for divorce.

Main reasons for divorce?

Reasons cited by both men and women as the most common causes of divorce include loss of love and incompatibility, poor communication, addiction, basic unhappiness, infidelity, emotional problems, conflict over roles, and spouses’ personality traits. All studies on the prevention of relationship breakdown and the causes of divorce reach the common conclusion that a constellation of factors, not just one, is normally responsible. The following are the ten most commonly cited reasons, drawn from various records, and in no particular order.

Differences in priorities
A difference in priorities, which a lot of men and women discuss and anticipate prior to their marriage, can become major issues at a later stage. If one spouse wants to start a family and the other does not, it may create immense conflict.

Religious, cultural or ethnic differences
Couples of different religious, cultural or ethnic background may sometimes disregard the expectations of each other’s religion/culture/ethnicity, causing resentment. Conflict can also arise when children are involved, as most parents prefer their children to take on their own traditions.

Parental responsibilities
It often happens that spouses aren’t able to constructively co-parent their children. Differing ideas on how to raise children commonly cause rifts in a marriage.

Finances
When times are tough, marriages take strain. Married couples, whether happy or not, may disagree about certain financial issues, which if not resolved can put undue stress on their relationship.

Sexual incompatibility
Men and women differ emotionally, mentally and sexually. Things change as the marriage progresses, i.e. children are born, health challenges arise and careers change. All these things can impact a couple’s sexual relationship. If a spouse is not being physically fulfilled, he/she will look elsewhere. In most cases, sexual dissatisfaction will result in divorce.

Addiction
Addiction of any kind is like a black hole, sucking in everything in its path of destruction, throwing family life off balance the stronger it gets, putting undue strain on relationships. Whether the addiction is to alcohol, drugs or, increasingly, pornography or social networking, the effect is the same. Before the internet, strip clubs, videos and DVDs fed pornographic addiction. These days, more and more people spend countless hours viewing pornography online, buying into the fantasy. Addiction of this nature not only has a degrading effect on the individuals in the relationship, but also leaves disastrous emotional scars on children, close relatives and friends.

Social networking
Social media like Facebook, Twitter and BBM/WHATSAPP is affecting privacy and family interaction more and more, as it blurs the lines between public and private domains. The nature of these media outlets encourages free-spirited posting, commenting and sharing of information, often thoughtlessly. Spouses who spend countless hours on social networks to the exclusion of valuable family interaction, create a disconnect that often cannot be repaired, and divorce follows. What is posted on social networking sites is not as private as many think, and Facebook flirting is cited as the cause of an increasing number of divorces. With a multitude of profiles just a click away, it has made it really easy for people to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

Infidelity
Infidelity/adultery, more commonly known as ‘cheating’, is near the top of the list of reasons for divorcing in South Africa. Adultery is defined as extramarital sex that wilfully and maliciously interferes with marriage relations, leading to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship. Infidelity undermines the root of the relationship, namely trust, and is a violation of the mutually agreed rules or boundaries that a couple assumes when they start their relationship.

Abuse
Abuse is one of the top reasons for divorce. Abuse occurs in all age groups, ethnic groups and class groups, and comes in a variety of forms, from physical abuse (domestic violence) to verbal, emotional, psychological and even financial abuse. It can include things like telling a child they are unwanted, name calling, ignoring, restricting a person to a room, monitoring phone calls, forcing a spouse into doing something that he/she is uncomfortable with and withholding finances. Abusers can be male or female and abuse can occur in heterosexual relationships, same-sex relationships and parent-child relationships. While women and children are the most victimised, men are also abused, especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes physically too.

Lack of communication
The writer Josh Billings once said that ‘Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute’. Lack of communication is the single biggest cause for divorce and accounts for almost 70 per cent of all marital breakdowns. Without proper communication, no relationship can survive. Good communication does not mean always agreeing with each other. Couples with communication problems that usually lead to divorce are often unable to find a middle ground and are unwilling to compromise. A lack of communication in any area of a marriage can cause major damage to the relationship. Many couples lack communication when it comes to making decisions about finances, leading to financial problems and endless arguments. Many also fall down when they have to make decisions about their children.

What mistakes do couples make when they divorce?

Divorce need not be bitter or erupt into a war. Unfortunately, though, in many divorces, spouses turn what could be an amicable end to their marriage into an emotionally difficult and expensive legal battle by allowing their anger, hurt and fear to take over their rational thinking. Getting divorced is never easy, but when people realise that it is not about winners and losers and massive legal bills, but about making a clean break and working out the terms of the divorce together or with the intervention of legal representatives, then the process can be relatively easy. If you can, try your level best to conclude your divorce in an uncontested manner, without having to go to trial. Do everything you can to make the divorce as non-acrimonious as possible. Although your role as a spouse ends, if you have children, your role as a parent continues. A contested divorce means long unnecessary delays, huge legal bills and unpredictable emotions.

Very often spouses make the error of wanting a divorce for useless reasons. This comes from being wrapped up with the idea of being hurt and concentrating on one’s self rather than separating the actual events from the end results. It is very tough to lift your thinking and be ostensibly autonomous to your own situation, sometimes this is often impossible to do. But, when you can look at your situation objectively, and then go through your divorce decision making process, you may be closer to the real answers that you search for.

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.

By Bertus Preller

Family Law Attorney

Bertus Preller & Associates Inc. Cape Town

Twitter: @bertuspreller

Websites: http://www.divorceattorney.co.za and http://www.divorcelaws.co.za

Think before you get married


Political Marriage

The short-lived “marriage” between the DA’s Helen Zille and Agang SA’s Mamphela Ramphele might be old news for some but a marriage without the existence of an Antenuptial contract or “ANC” can have devastated consequences for the parties involved not only during the course of the marriage but also in the unlikely event of a divorce. Therefore if you do get married make sure your paperwork is in order before the big day otherwise the damage may be substantial. Unfortunately, as in the case in question parties focus so much on the marriage ceremony itself that they completely forget the implications of neglecting to make an informed decision regarding the marriage regime, in the unlikely event that they do divorce.

In accordance with the Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984, which came into operation on 1 November 1984, there are three forms of matrimonial property regimes in South Africa, namely:

Marriages in community of property
Marriages out of community of property without accrual
Marriages out of community of property with accrual

Marriages in community of property

Marriage in community of property is undoubtedly the cheapest and most popular form of all the matrimonial regimes, although deeply flawed. No ANC is required, so if you marry without an antenuptial contract, you will by default be married in community of property. In this form of marriage, the spouses’ estates (what they own/assets and any debt/liabilities) are joined together and each has the right of disposal over the assets; they are equal concurrent managers of the joint estate. Each has an undivided or indivisible half share of the joint or communal estate.

Advantages of marriage in community of property

You don’t have to enter into a special contract before being able to get married.
When you are the financially weaker spouse, you get to share in the assets of your spouse.

Disadvantages of marriage in community of property

When you are the economically stronger spouse, you have to share your assets with your spouse.
You are jointly liable for each other’s debts. This is particularly problematic on insolvency.
The joint administration of the estate is rather complicated.
When a marriage starts to fail, it can become difficult to obtain joint consent.

One of the most devastating consequences of a marriage in community of property is that when one spouse becomes insolvent (cannot pay his/her debts), both spouses will be declared insolvent, because there is one communal estate. If there is a court order against either one of the spouses, the communal estate can be lost.

The consequences of divorce when married in community of property

Upon divorce, the assets of the joint estate as at the date of divorce will be divided equally between the parties, unless a spouse claims forfeiture and the court grants such a forfeiture order.

Marriages out of community of property

This matrimonial property regime involves an ANC (i.e. an agreement entered into before the marriage) where community of property and profit and loss are excluded. There is no joining of the spouses’ estates into one joint estate. Each spouse has his/her own separate estate, consisting of his/her premarital assets and debts, and all the assets and debts he/she acquires during the marriage. They each administer their own separate estates and have full and exclusive control over their own property. By marrying out of community of property, the spouses choose to keep their estates separate and whatever assets and liabilities they individually had before the date of marriage will remain part of their separate estates. The spouses can, however, agree to include the accrual between them so that both spouses will share equally in the growth during the marriage of each other’s separate estates.

Antenuptial contracts (ANC)

A marriage out of community of property is achieved by drawing up an ANC. The ANC will be the most important contract that a married couple will sign in their lifetime. Entered into before marriage, the purpose of the contract is to change some or all of the automatic financial consequences of marriage.

The ANC allows the husband and wife to tailor-make their very own matrimonial property regime. They can include any provisions they like in their ANC, as long as the provisions are not against the law, good morals or the nature of marriage. ANC’s are problematic to change as they dictate the financial and proprietary consequences of the couple’s future and can affect the rights of the couple’s creditors.

Couples may enter into one of two types of ANC:

an ANC that excludes community of property, community of profit and loss, and the accrual system; or
an ANC that excludes community of property and community of profit and loss, but includes the accrual system.

The ‘accrual’ is the extent to which the husband and wife have become richer by the end of the marriage, in other words, the amount by which the spouses’ joint wealth has increased over the period of the marriage. When married according to the accrual system, each spouse acquires a certain right to the other’s property on divorce. Neither system is superior to the other. The marital property regime chosen (i.e. with or without accrual) must suit the couple’s relationship dynamic and specific needs. Note that the ANC is a normal contract, so all the rules as to fraud, duress and mistake apply.

The consequences of divorce when married out of community of property without the accrual after 1 November 1984

In a marriage out of community of property without the accrual contracted after 1 November 1984, there can be no claim for a transfer of assets. The argument is that there are now three matrimonial property regimes to choose from, and if the parties willingly decided to marry out of community of property and without the accrual system, one of the parties cannot later request a redistribution of assets. In such a regime, upon divorce, each party will retain their separate estates, i.e. what they had upon marriage and including all growth to the separate estate that occurred during the marriage, minus any losses that may have been sustained. For example, if the husband came into the marriage with R10 000, he would leave with R10 000 + profits ˗ losses.

A spouse who contributed to the other spouse’s estate, whether in cash or otherwise, will have a difficult time proving that he/she is entitled to anything from their ex’s estate on divorce as contributions play no role if the parties are married without the accrual. If, for example, the wife stays home to raise the children and does not contribute financially towards the marriage and the other spouse works and accumulates assets, the wife may find herself with nothing and no claim to her husband’s assets.

Advantages of marriage out of community of property without the accrual

Each spouse keeps his/her own assets and is free to deal with his/her own estate as he/she likes.
Spouses are generally not liable for each other’s debts. Thus, if one spouse becomes insolvent, creditors cannot touch the assets of the other spouse.
The financially stronger spouse does not have to share his/her estate with the weaker spouse. This is subject to judicial discretion and forfeiture of benefits.

Disadvantages of marriage out of community of property without the accrual

The economically weaker spouse, traditionally the woman, does not get to share in the estate of the stronger spouse, even though she may have indirectly contributed to the estate by running the household and looking after the children. This is subject to judicial discretion and forfeiture of benefits.
An ANC has to be entered into in order to marry out of community of property. This costs money, and the parties must pay the fees of a notary and costs of registration.

Marriages out of community of property with the accrual

After 1984, anyone entering into an ANC that excludes community of property and community of profit and loss is automatically married under the accrual system. Spouses may, however, exclude the accrual system in their ANC, but if they do not do so expressly, the accrual applies. When the accrual is included, a spouse will be entitled to share in the growth of the two estates at divorce.

This is surely the most appropriate and ideal way to marry. All the assets that each party owns prior to the marriage can either be excluded or included in the accrual. If no assets are excluded in the ANC, the value of each party’s estate at the commencement of the marriage is deemed to be nil.

The consequences of divorce when married out of community of property with the accrual

Accrual is a way to ensure that both spouses in a marriage gain a fair share of the estate once the marriage comes to an end. The accrual system does not apply automatically to all marriages out of community of property. For the accrual system to apply, the ANC must be drafted in a certain way. The accrual system incorporates a calculation that is applied when the marriage is dissolved by divorce. The spouses will share the assets during the course of their marriage based on a particular calculation when the marriage is terminated.

The term ‘accrual’ is used to denote the net increase in value of a spouse’s estate since the date of marriage. In other words, what was yours before the marriage remains yours, and what you have earned during the marriage belongs to both of you. Because the right to share in accrual is exercisable only upon dissolution of the marriage, such a right is not transferable and cannot be attached by creditors during the subsistence of the marriage.

The following assets are not taken into account when determining the accrual (are not included in the net value of the estate):

Any asset excluded from the accrual system under the ANC, as well as any other asset that the spouse acquired by virtue of his/her possession or former possession of such asset.
Any inheritance, legacy, trust or donation received by a spouse during the marriage from any third party, as well as any other asset that the spouse has acquired by virtue of his/her possession or former possession of the inheritance, legacy, trust or donation, unless the spouses have agreed otherwise in their ANC or the testator/trix or donor has stipulated otherwise.
Any donation between the spouses.
Any amount that accrued to a spouse by way of damages (e.g. slander), other than damages for patrimonial loss or the proceeds of an insurance policy in respect of a dread disease.

Commencement values and accruals

Where parties wish to enter into an ANC with the accrual system, they must make sure that the commencement values of their respective estates (i.e. how much their estates are worth at the time of marriage) have been verified and accepted by both parties. It often happens in divorce matters that one party will allege that the other’s commencement value was inflated or completely inaccurate.

Upon the dissolution of the marriage by divorce, the net estate value (assets less liabilities less excluded assets and/or commencement values) of each estate is determined separately. The larger estate must then transfer half of the difference to the smaller estate. Putting it another way, the smaller estate must claim for an amount equal to half of the difference between the accruals of the respective estates. The right to share in the accrual only commences upon dissolution of the marriage by divorce.

The commencement value to be subtracted from the current value of the estate must be adjusted with the consumer price index (CPI) to make provision for any change in the value of money. To calculate the adjustment, go to http://www.statssa.gov.za and click on ‘Historical CPI’ and then on ‘Key indicators’. The factor by which the commencement value must be multiplied to get to the adapted value is calculated by dividing the value for the month of the dissolution of the marriage by the value for the month in which the parties were married.

Advantages of marriage out of community of property with the accrual

The spouses share the increase in their assets accumulated during the marriage and the economically weaker spouse benefits.
The spouses do not share their assets acquired before their marriage (but only if excluded in the ANC or included in the commencement values of the parties’ estates). The accrual system appeals to people who are already wealthy at the time of marriage.
During the course of the marriage, each spouse manages his/her estate at will. There is no complex joint or equal administration.
The spouses are not liable for each other’s debts. All that they share is their net assets. Thus, if one spouse becomes insolvent, the other spouse is protected against creditors.

Disadvantages of marriage out of community of property with the accrual

The economically stronger spouse has to share the profits that he/she made during the marriage.
One has to enter into an ANC in order for the accrual system to apply.
The calculation of accrual at the end of the marriage can be a bit complex.

Compiled by Bertus Preller

Family Law and Divorce Attorney and author of Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation – Random House.

Twitter: bertuspreller

Websites:  http://www.divorcelaws.co.za or http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys

Book review on Everyone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation


Deur Jaco Barnard-Naudé is professor in regsfilosofie aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad.

Book

Ons leef vandag in ‘n wêreld van toenemende vloeibaarheid en pluraliteit op die vlak van persoonlike verhoudings. Die een dag besluit jy en jou beste vriend nog om lewenskoste te beperk deur ‘n woonstel te deel en die volgende dag word die platoniese vriendskap iets meer en julle woon voortaan saam as man en vrou. Of man en man. ‘n Paar jaar later besluit julle om te trou. As julle ‘n eendersgeslagtelike verhouding bedryf, moet julle deur die hekke van die Wet op Burgerlike Verbintenisse, 2006, toegang verkry tot die twyfelagtige groener gras van die huwelik. Heteroseksuele saamwoners het ‘n addisionele (en meer konvensionele) wet beskikbaar waarvolgens hulle in die huwelik kan tree – die Huwelikswet van die Jaar van Onse Heer 1961. As julle byvoorbeeld in Tamboerskloof saamwoon en besluit die huwelik is nie wat julle en ander eende van julle dam wil hê nie, hoef julle nie te trou om die verbintenis regtens erken te kry nie: die 2006-Wet maak voorsiening vir ‘n burgerlike vennootskap wat presies dieselfde gevolge as ‘n huwelik het.

Ek het al hierdie dinge geweet voordat ek hierdie uiters leesbare en akkurate boek onder die oë gehad het, omdat ek vir ‘n regsfakulteit werk en self betrokke was by die totstandkoming van die 2006-Wet. Vir diegene wat tans in ‘n saamwonery van een of ander aard verkeer, dit oorweeg om een of ander Groot Stap (insluitend skeiding van tafel en bed) te doen en nié in die regsberoep werk of betroubare vriende daarin (skaars spesie) het nie, kan ekEveryone’s Guide to Divorce and Separation aanbeveel.

Die titel is ondeurdag. Hoewel die regstema van geregtelike skeiding prominent daarin bespreek word, soos die titel aandui, handel groot gedeeltes daarvan oor die regsgevolge van die totstandkoming van ‘n huwelik of ander permanente saamwoonverhouding. Selfs die gevolge van die totstandkoming van die ouwêreldse “verlowing” (en wat die lô sê oor die verloofring wanneer jy dit in sy gesig terugsmyt) word met erns bespreek. En as lobola deel was van jou huweliksonderhandelinge en jy is getroud ingevolge die Wet op Erkenning van Gewoonteregtelike Huwelike, sal jy interessante dinge lees oor hoe om te verhoed dat jou man se aanhoudende trouery jou nie finansieel benadeel nie.

‘n Groot gedeelte van die boek handel oor die onwillekeurige partye tot ‘n saamwoonverhouding: die kinders. Daar is ‘n omvattende bespreking van wat die verantwoordelikhede teenoor kinders in ‘n gesin is – veral wanneer die ouers se saamwoonverhouding tot ‘n einde kom en ook in gevalle waar Ma en Pa eens saamgewoon, of ten minste saam verkeer, het, maar by geboorte van die kind reeds aanbeweeg het. Die boek stel dit in hierdie konteks direk en duidelik: die kind(ers) sit met die gebakte pere van julle mislukte verhouding sonder dat hulle daarvoor gevra het. Die allerminste wat julle kan doen, is alles in julle vermoë ten einde te verseker dat hulle so onbeskadig as moontlik uit die puin van julle verhouding tree.

Bostaande is maar een rede waarom die skrywer (‘n prokureur) daarvoor pleit dat egskeidings nie in litigasie behoort te eindig nie. Daar is merendeels slegs verloorders in ‘n bestrede egskeiding, en té dikwels, waar kinders betrokke is, is dit húlle wat as pionne in die vuilspel gebruik word en die meeste verloor.

Benewens ‘n omvattende verduideliking van die egskeidingsproses bevat die boek ook heelwat praktiese wenke vir mense wat deur so ‘n proses moet gaan (waartydens gesinsgeweld nie uitgesluit word nie, daarom die hoofstuk oor laasgenoemde). Dit het my lank geneem om die bul by die horings te pak en hierdie boek te lees, want egskeiding is nooit ‘n aangename onderwerp om oor te dink of te lees nie – ons dink veel eerder aan die feeste van die huweliksdag. Maar as jy jou in ‘n skeidingsituasie bevind (en nie in die regsberoep werk of daarin bevriend is nie), moet jy jou, soos vir enige stryd, hoe gemoedelik ook al, bewapen. En Preller se boek is ‘n sterk wapen. Kry dit.

divorce and separation

 

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Original article at: http://www.litnet.co.za/Article/2013-everyones-guide-to-divorce-and-separation-bertus-preller

A look at marriage in community of property


relationships

The Matrimonial Property Regimes

The Matrimonial Property Act of 1984 provides for three types of marriages under South African law, namely:

Marriage in community of property; and

Two forms of marriage out of community of property governed by an antenuptial contract, namely one with accrual and one without accrual.

Marriage in Community of Property

When no antenuptial contract is signed, then the marriage is, by default, a marriage in community of property. Besides the obligations in respect of property ownership the law also places obligations on couple’s for example they have a duty to support each other by providing clothing accommodation, food, medical services and other necessities. The duty of support is a duty that goes both ways, and if the husband doesn’t have the necessary means to support himself, then the wife has a legal obligation to support him and vice versa. Furthermore, in case of marriage, mere separation is not recognised by the law and a couple must be divorced for the dissolution of the marriage to be recognised and ensuing a division of assets to take place.

Under the Matrimonial Property Act, partners married in community of property have equal legal status. Apart from certain exclusions all property is shared by the parties in a joint estate. The couples become joint owners of all the assets and liabilities they acquired before they got married and those acquired during the marriage. Four example, if the husband has a motor vehicle valued at R 200 000 and an outstanding loan of R 100,000, it means that the other party assumes half of the assets and becomes the joint owner of the car, but also take up the joint liability for the debt of R 100,000.

The main exclusions to communal ownership of:

Assets excluded by a will for example, if you inherit property through someone leaving it to you in his/her will. It will be excluded from the joint estate. Only if the will specifically states it is to be excluded.

Assets excluded from the joint estate in a prenuptial contract or agreement. Before tying the knot, partners can sign the agreement in which they specify assets that they want don’t want to be included in the joint estate.

Gifts and donations. These are assets that partners give to each other, including those given during their engagement.

Partners have an equal say in financial transactions that affect the joint estate. Transactions that require the written consent of both partners are for example when they buy or sell large assets that are part of the joint estate’s such as a house, taking out a bond, entering into credit agreements and ceding insurance policies or investments. Verbal consent between partners is required for transactions, such as the sale or disposal of household goods.

A major disadvantage for marrying in community of property is when one of the partners gets into debt and is declared insolvent then both spouses are equally affected. In other words, the joint estate becomes an insolvent estate. Creditors can then go after all the assets in the joint estate and also the assets excluded from it, such as inherited property.

What happens on divorce?

On divorce the joint estate will split equally between the separating partners even if one partner has contributed towards the bulk of the assets by for example being the sole breadwinner. The excluded assets remain in the names of the separated partners. However, the terms of the marital regime can be overridden. For example, if a couple is married in community of property and in filing for divorce one partner believes that the equal split of assets would unduly benefit the other party, the party can claim a forfeiture of patrimonial benefits. A classic example of where this could apply is where a young man with minimal assets marries an older wealthy woman and in the course of a short marriage has affairs with younger women. Hurt and humiliated the wife sues for divorce. In the event of such a claim under the Divorce Act, the divorce court will consider the misconduct by one of, or both of the parties, the duration of the marriage and the circumstances leading to the breakdown. A partner cannot forfeit assets that he or she had to before the marriage and brought into the joint estate. In the event of the court granting forfeiture it may be either wholly or partially in favour of the claimant. The Matrimonial Property regimes can also be overridden by the spouses themselves in the case of an uncontested divorce. One form of an uncontested divorce is where the parties enter into a settlement agreement also known as a consent paper which regulates property ownership issues arising from the termination of the marriage. The parties have full contractual freedom, either to apply the matrimonial property regimes applicable to their marriage or to draw up a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement will be made an order of the court when the decree of divorce is granted.

The Pension Funds Amendment Act, 2007, introduced the so-called clean-break principle for the treatment of retirement fund benefits upon the granting of a divorce decree. The Act allows retirement funds to deduct an amount or percentage upon divorce from a member’s benefit and pay it to the non-member spouse or to a retirement fund of his/her choice. The clean-break principle allows a non-member former spouse to access an agreed or court-ordered share of the member spouse’s retirement savings on divorce.

Any assigned amount may be paid from the member’s pension fund to a non-member spouse in terms of a divorce order granted under the Divorce Act, irrespective of the date of divorce, but may not be more than 100 per cent of the value of the member’s withdrawal benefit at the date of divorce. In order for the fund to make the deduction and payment to the non-member spouse, the fund must be ordered to endorse its records (make a note on the system) to such effect and/or to make payment to the non-member spouse. The non-member spouse can elect to receive a cash lump sum or to have the money transferred to an approved pension fund.

What happens if a partner dies?

You may be under the mistaken impression that on the death of a partner the joint estate simply passes to the surviving partner without the need of an executor. Unfortunately, life is not so simple. On the death of either party, the joint assets in the name of the decrease partner are frozen, which can leave the surviving partner with our immediate access to funds in the estate. On finalisation of the estate the surviving partner will automatically get his or her behalf. The other half is distributed according to the will of the deceased partner. If no will has been drawn up, the deceased half of the estate is distributed in terms of the laws that govern interstate succession.

Disadvantages of a marriage in community of property:

The economically stronger spouse has to share his or her assets with his or her spouse.

The spouses are jointly liable for each other’s debts. This is particularly problematic on insolvency.

The joint administration of the estate is quite complicated.

While the marriage is a happy one, it is no real problem to obtain your spouse’s consent. But when the marriage starts to fail, the requirement of joint consent is difficult to satisfy.

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