Divorce Attorney Cape Town

Online Divorce in South Africa

In today’s society, with the constraints and pressures of everyday life why should obtaining a divorce have to make everything grind to a halt? The answer is simply it shouldn’t and doesn’t have to. Hundreds of people every month throughout South Africa are seeking ways to reduce the amount of time it takes and the costs involved in obtaining a divorce and turn to online divorce services such as iDivorce to assist them in this process.

By using an online divorce service the average divorce can be completed in just 4 weeks and cost (excluding sheriff fees) from as little as R 1000.00 in comparison to Attorney fees that can be in excess of R 10 000.00.

To start the divorce process is easy, if you are involved in an uncontested divorce. Simply go to http://www.idivorce.co.za and register. Then fill in a questionnaire that will take about 20 minutes and your divorce documents will be generated in less than 24 hours.

The system generates the following documents:

  • Combined Summons
  • Particulars of Claim
  • Consent Paper – Settlement Agreement
  • Parenting Plan
  • Annexure A for the Family Advocate
  • Government Statistics Form (Form 07 – 04)
  • Step-by-Step letter, explaining the process

The iDivorce process has two Divorce Plans from which you can choose:

The Basic Plan – R 1000+ Sheriff fee of between R 150 – R 250

  • All your divorce forms – completed for you by the eDivorce platform and checked by divorce experts.
  • Step-by-Step Guide -Written in plain English and easy to follow.
  • Fast Service – Documents delivered within 24 – 36 hours guaranteed.

The Platinum Plan – Managed Divorce Service – R 6000 all inclusive:

  • The price you pay is fixed from the start of your case and includes everything you will need.
  • All your required divorce documents-Prepared and completed by divorce specialists.
  • 7 day a week service- We are open when it is convenient for you. All documents filed at court for you – We deal with all the filing and admin.
  • Settlement Agreements are catered for- We can help you, with or without children.
  • Get a Free Will – For both Husband and Wife if you need one.
  • Divorce in 4 to 6 weeks -Fast service guaranteed.
  • Attorney supervised – All services supervised by an Attorney.
  • Appearance at Court – We appoint an Attorney or Advocate to appear with you on your behalf with you at Court.
  • Professional and Trustworthy.
  • Save over R 3000 – Fixed fee for all the work.

iDivorce is a technology platform enabling members of the public to draft their own legal documentation for purposes of initiating and concluding uncontested divorce proceedings through either the High Courts or Divorce Courts in South Africa.

In matters where there is disputes over the children, it will be better to see an attorney.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has amended the Magistrate’s Courts Act of 1944 giving powers to Regional Courts to now deal with divorce cases as well. President Jacob Zuma announced the commencement of the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act which came into effect on 9th August 2010, the National Woman’s Day. The Regional Courts were established in 1952 to deal with divorces, serious criminal offences and mete out harsher penalties. The amendments increase access to justice to members of the public, in particular, women and children who go to courts daily for the resolution of family related disputes relating to divorce; maintenance; adoption; and matters relating to custody of minor children.

These amendments are good news for people utilising the iDivorce process, a DIY online divorce service at http://www.idivorce.co.za for the mere reason that it offers parties in a divorce action the opportunity to conclude their divorce in their area of residence, faster and with wider access to the courts. Previously divorces in South Africa were handled by just a few Family Courts and the High Court and through the implementation of the new system; it will be not only more cost effective but also quicker as a result of the spread in the workload.

  • There are now 62 more Regional courts to deal with same workload that the 3 former divorce courts.
  • This will assist in reducing case backlogs both at the High Courts and Magistrates Courts.
  • Proceedings in the High Courts are complex to the extent that attorneys and advocates are usually instructed resulting in high litigation costs.
  • Regional courts have a reduced scale of costs in relation to the High Court, and simplified proceedings which include the use of mediation in resolving civil disputes.
  • Registrars and assistant registrars appointed at each regional court to provide assistance to member of the public.

The Courts are located in the diagram below:

Province New seat of civilRegional Court Areas in respect of which the civil Regional Court has jurisdiction
EasternCape East London East London, Komgha and Mdantsane
Grahamstown Albany, Adelaide, Alexandria, Bathurst, Bedford and Somerset East.
Graaff-Reinet Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Cradock, Hofmeyr, Jansenville, Middelburg, Pearston and Willowmore.
King William’sTown King William’s Town, Cathcart, Fort Beaufort, Keiskammahoek, Middledrift, Peddie, Stutterheim, Victoria East andZwelitsha.
Mthatha Umtata, Bizana, Butterworth (Gcuwa), Elliot, Elliotdale (Xhora), Engcobo, Flagstaff (Siphaqeni) , Idutywa, Kentani (Centane), Libode, Lusikisiki, Maclear, Matatiele, Mount Ayliff (Maxesibeni), Mount Fletcher, Mount Frere (Kwabacha) , Mqanduli, Nqamakwe, Ngqeleni, Port St Johns (Umzimvubu), Qumbu, Tabankulu, Tsolo, Tsomo and Willowvale (Gatyana)
Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth, Kirkwood, Motherwell and Uitenhage.
Queenstown Queenstown, Albert, Aliwal North, Barkley East, Glen Grey (Cacadu) (Lady Frere), Herschel, Hewu, Indwe, Lady Grey, Mo;teno, Mpofu (Seymor) (Stockentrom), Ntabethemba, Sterkstroom, Steynsburg, St Marks (Cofimvaba), Tarka, Venterstad, Wodehouse and Xalanga (Cala).
Humansdorp Humansdorp, Hankey, Joubertina, and Steytlerville.
Free State Bethlehem Bethlehem, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Frankfort, Harrismith, Lindley, Reitz, Senekal, Villiers, Vrede and Witsieshoek.
Bloemfontein Bloemfontein , Bethulie, Boshof, Botshabelo, Brandfort, Clocolan, Dewetsdorp, Edenburg, Excelsior , Fauresmith, Jacobsdal, Jagersfontein, Koffirfontein, Ladybrand, Marquard, Petrusburg, Philippolis, Reddersburg, Rouxville, Smithfield, Trompsburg, Thaba Nchu, Wepener and Zastron
Kroonstad Kroonstad, Heilbron, Koppies, Parys, Sasolburg, Viljoenskroon and Vredefort.
Welkom Welkom, Bothaville, Bultfontein, Hennenman, Hoopstad, Odendaalsrus, Theunissen, Ventersburg, Virginia, Wesselsbron and Winburg.
Gauteng Ekangala Ekangala, Bronkhorstspruit and Cullinan.
Johannesburg Johannesburg. [Can also go to Kliptown Regional Court]
Kempton Park Kempton Park, Benoni, Boksburg, Daveyton and Tembisa.
Kliptown (Canalso go to JohannesburgRegionalCourt) Armadale, Chiawelo, Comptonville, Devland, Dhlamini, Diepkloof, Dobsonville, Dobsonville Gardens, Doornkop, Dube, Emdeni, Jabavu, Jabavu Central Western, Jabulani, Klipriviersoog, Klipspruit, Klipspruit West, Lenaron, A.H., Lougherin A.H., Lufhereng, Mapetla, Meadowlands, Meredale, Mofolo Central, Mofolo North, Mofolo South, Molapo, Moletsane, Moroka, Moroka North, Naledi, Naturena, Nomzamo, Noordgesig, Orlando, Orlando East, Orlando Ekhaya, Orlando West, Phiri, Pimville Ext & Zones, Power Park, Protea City, Protea Glen, Protea North, Protea North Ext.1, Protea North Ext.9, Protea South Ext.1, Racecourse, Riversdale, Senaoane, Stesa A.H, Slovoville, Slovoville Ext.1, Tladi, Zola, Zola Ext.1 and Zondi.
Oberholzer Oberholzer and Westonaria.
Pretoria Pretoria, Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, Soshanguve and Wonderboom.
Randburg Randburg and Alexandra.
Roodepoort Roodepoort, Krugersdorp and Randfontein.
Germiston Germiston and Alberton.
Vereeniging Vereeniging, Meyerton and Vanderbijlpark.
Springs Springs, Brakpan, Heidelberg and Nigel.
KwaZulu-Natal Durban Durban, Chatsworth, Inanda, Lower Tugela, Ndwedwe, Pinetown, Umbumbulu, Umlazi and Ntuzuma.
Empangeni Empangeni (Lower Umfolozi), Eshowe, Hlabisa, Kranskop, Mahlabatini, Mapumulo, Mtonjaneni,Mtunzini and Nkandhla.
Newcastle Newcastle, Dannhauser, Dundee, Estcourt, Glencoe, Klip River, Madadeni, Msinga, Utrecht and Weenen.
Vryheid Vryheid, Babanango, Ingwavuma, Ngotshe, Nongoma, Nqutu, Paulpietersburg, Piet Retief and Ubombo.
Pietermaritzburg Pietermaritzburg, Bergville, Camperdown, Impendle, Lion’s River, Mooi River, New Hanover, Polela, Richmond, Umvoti and Underberg.
Port Shepstone Port Shepstone, Alfred, Ixopo, Mount Currie, Umzimkulu and Umzinto.
Limpopo Giyani Giyani, Bolobedu, Malamulele, Sekgosese, Tshitale and Vuwani.
Lebowakgomo Thabamoopo.
Sekhukhune Sekhukhuneland, Nebo and Praktiseer
Modimolle Waterberg, Ellisras, Northam, Phalala, Thabazimbi and Warmbaths.
Polokwane Pietersburg, Bochum, Mankweng, Mokerong, Potgietersrus and Seshego.
Tzaneen Letaba, Lulekani, Namakgale, Naphuno, Ritavi and Phalaborwa.
Thohoyandou Thohoyandou, Dzanani, Hlanganani, Messina, Mutale, Sibasa, Soutpansberg, Tiyani and Tshilwavhisiku.
Mpumalanga Eerstehoek (Elukwatini) Eerstehoek, Carolina, Ermelo, Piet Retief and Wakkerstroom.
Evander Highveld Ridge, Amersfoort, Balfour, Bethal, Delmas, Standerton and Volksrust.
KwaMhlanga Kwamhlanga, Mathanjana, Mbibana, Mdutjana and Mkobola.
Middelburg Middelburg, Groblersdal, Kriel, Moutse and Witbank.
Mbombela Nelspruit, Barberton, Belfast, Lydenburg, Mapulaneng, Mhala, Nkomazi, Nsikazi, Pilgrim’s Rest, Waterval-Boven and White River.
Northern Cape De Aar De Aar, Britstown, Carnarvon, Colesberg, Hanover, Noupoort, Philipstown, Richmond and Victoria West.
Kimberley Kimberley, Barkly West, Hartswater, Douglas, Hopetown, Jan Kempdorp and Warrenton.
Springbok Calvinia, Fraserburg, Garies, Namaqualand, Port Nolloth, Sutherland and Williston.
Upington Gordonia, Groblershoop, Hay, Kakamas, Kathu, Keimoes, Kenhardt, Kuruman, Olifantshoek, Pofadder, Postmasburg and Prieska.
North West Brits Brits and Warmbaths.
Ga-Rankuwa Odi and Pretoria.
Klerksdorp Klerksdorp, Bloemhof, Christiana, Schweizer-Reneke and Wolmaransstad.
Mmabatho Molopo (Mafikeng), Atamelang, Ditsobotla, Mafeking, Lehurutshe, Lichtenburg, Mafeking, Ottosdal and Zeerust
Potchefstroom Potchefstroom, Coligny and Ventersdorp.
Rustenburg Rustenburg, Bafokeng, Koster, Madikwe, Mankwe, Marico and Swartruggens.
Temba Moretele
Vryburg Vryburg, Delareyville, Ganyesa, Kudumane (Tlhaping-Tlharo), Kuruman and Taung.
Western Cape Atlantis Atlantis, Clanwilliam, Hopefield, Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Piketberg, Van Rhynsdorp, Vredenburg and Vredendal.
Bellville Bellville, Bluedowns and Kuils River.
Cape Town Cape and Goodwood.
George George, Heidelberg, Knysna, Mossel Bay, Riversdale, Thembaletu and Uniondale.
Mitchells Plain Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.
Oudtshoorn Oudtshoorn, Beaufort West, Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Murraysburg and Prince Albert.
Somerset West Somerset West, Bredasdorp, Caledon, Grabouw, Hermanus, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Strand,Tulbagh, Wellington and Wolseley.
Worcester Worcester, Bonnievale, Ceres, Laingsburg, Montagu, Robertson and Swellendam.
Wynberg Wynberg, Athlone, Phillipi and Simon’s Town.

For further info and how to conclude your divorce through the online iDivorce process at a fraction of the normal cost, visit http://www.idivorce.co.za or email info@idivorce.co.za, you can also call the iDivorce hotline on 079 509 3943.

Grounds for Divorce in South Africa

Dissolution of a civil marriage by divorce in South Africa

Three grounds for divorce were introduced by the Divorce Act:

  1.  irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (section 4);
  2. mental illness of a party to the marriage (section 5);
  3. continuous unconsciousness of a party to the marriage (section 3).

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage

Section 4(1) – court may only grant a decree of divorce on the ground of the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage if it is satisfied that the marriage relationship between the parties to the marriage has reached such a state of disintegration that there is no reasonable prospect of the restoration of a normal marriage relationship between them.  There are thus 2 requirements:

(a)   marriage relationship must no longer be normal;

(b)   there must be no prospect of the restoration of a normal marriage relationship between the spouses.

The legal definition of “normal marital relationship” should be sought in the concept of consortium omnis vitae.  When either spouse or both of them behave in such a way that the consortium omnis vitae is terminated or seriously disrupted, it can be said that a normal marriage relationship no longer exists between the spouses.

Schwartz v Schwartz:  in determining whether a marriage has reached such a state of disintegration that there is no reasonable prospect of the restoration of a normal marriage relationship between the parties it is important to have regard to what has happened in the past, that is, history of the relationship up to the date of trial, and also to the present attitude of the parties to the marriage relationship as revealed by the evidence at the trial.

Swart v Swart:  a marriage has broken down if one spouse no longer wishes to continue with the marriage.  The formation of an intention to sue for divorce is the subjective element in the method of determining marriage breakdown.  However, in order to assess the probability of a successful reconciliation being effected, the court also has to consider the reasons that prompted the plaintiff to sue for divorce, and the parties’ conduct.  Only when the court has determined that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, will it find that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and grant a decree of divorce.  The court looks at the objective scantiness and surmountability of the reasons why a divorce was applied for to ascertain whether the marriage in question can still be saved.

Coetzee v Coetzee:  in order to succeed in a divorce action based on irretrievable breakdown, the plaintiff must prove that there has been a change in the pattern of the marriage from which breakdown can be deduced.  The inherent problem in this conception is that a divorce cannot be obtained in a marriage which was unhappy from the start and remained unhappy throughout.

Guidelines for irretrievable breakdown of marriage (section 4(2))

The guidelines are merely examples of instances where the probability is high that a normal marriage relationship no longer exists and that there is no reasonable prospect for the restoration of a normal marriage relationship.  However, these guidelines are neither exhaustive nor conclusive.

(1)   parties have not lived together as husband and wife for a continuous period of at least one year immediately prior to the date of the institution of the divorce action

Since the legislator requires an unbroken period of at least one year, it is clear that if the period was interrupted by periods of resumed cohabitation, the plaintiff would have to present more evidence to the court than the mere fact that they have lived apart for a year.

The consortium between the spouses must have been terminated. Even if the spouses have continued living together under the same roof there is no reason why the plaintiff cannot show that the consortium between them has been terminated.

If the plaintiff wishes to rely only on the spouses having lived apart for a year without adducing any further evidence in support of the divorce action, he or she would have to produce proof that the full period of a year has elapsed.  If the spouses still share the same dwelling, the plaintiff would have to prove the particular point in time at which the consortium came to an end.

(2)   The defendant has committed adultery and the plaintiff finds it irreconcilable with a continued marriage relationship

The test to determine whether the plaintiff considers the defendant’s adultery irreconcilable with the continuation of the marriage is clearly subjective.  If the plaintiff alleges that he or she cannot continue with the marriage, there is no way in which this allegation can be refuted.  There is support for the contention that it is not necessary to convince the court on a balance of probabilities that adultery was committed.  The plaintiff should however place some evidence of the adultery before the court.  A mere allegation that the defendant committed adultery would not be sufficient to ensure the success of the divorce action.

(3)   A court has declared the defendant a habitual criminal and the defendant is undergoing imprisonment as a result of that sentence

If the defendant has not been declared an habitual criminal, the plaintiff would have to adduce evidence other than the mere fact of the defendant’s imprisonment to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  In any event, in terms of section 4(2), a plaintiff may sue for divorce after a year’s separation, regardless of whether or not the separation resulted from imprisonment.

Incurable mental illness or continuous unconsciousness

The criteria

Section 5(1) – mental illness

  1. The defendant has been admitted to an institution as a patient in terms of a reception order under the Mental health Act, or is being detained as a state patient or mentally ill convicted prisoner at an institution;
  2. The defendant has not been unconditionally discharged from the institution or place of detention for a continuous period of at least two years immediately prior to the institution of the divorce action;
  3. There is no reasonable prospect that the defendant will be cured of his or her mental illness.  This fact must be proved by the evidence of at least two psychiatrists, one of whom must be appointed by the court.

Section 5(2) – continuous unconsciousness

  1.  The defendant must be in a state of continuous unconsciousness caused by a physical disorder;
  2. The defendant’s unconscious state must have lasted for a period of at least six months immediately prior to the institution of the divorce action;
  3. There must be no reasonable prospect that the defendant will regain consciousness.  This fact must be proved by the evidence of at least two doctors, one of whom must be a neurologist or neurosurgeon appointed by the court.

The requirements of section 5 need not be complied with in order to obtain a divorce order against a mentally ill or unconscious spouse.  A decree of divorce can be granted under section 4 if the plaintiff can prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  Only in the most exceptional circumstances will a court make a forfeiture order against a defendant whose mental illness or unconsciousness is the reason for a divorce which is granted in terms of section 4.

Special rules which apply in terms of the Divorce Act:

(a)   Section 5(3)

The court is empowered to appoint a legal practitioner to represent the defendant at the court proceedings, and to order the plaintiff to bear the costs of the defendant’s legal representation.

(b)   Section 5(4)

The court may make any order it deems ft in respect of requiring the plaintiff to furnish security for any patrimonial benefits to which the defendant may be entitled as a result of the divorce.

(c)   Section 9(2)

Forfeiture of patrimonial benefits may not be ordered against a defendant if the marriage is dissolved on the ground of the defendant’s incurable mental illness or continuous unconsciousness.

(d)   Maintenance

The plaintiff may indeed claim maintenance from the mentally ill or unconscious defendant if he or she qualifies for maintenance in terms of section 7(2) of the Act.

Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in law and 13 years as a practising attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters and international divorce law.

Divorce Law and Pension Benefits in South Africa

When the parties are married in community of property or out of community of property with accrual is it possible to have a claim directly against the pension fund. If the parties are married out of community of property, excluding the accrual then in terms of the Divorce Act, 1979 they are not entitled to claim any benefits from the pension fund directly. One must first establish whether the divorce order is enforceable directly against the fund.

If the Divorce Settlement Agreement is not drafted properly a party may find that the claim against the pension fund might not be enforceable, it is therefore of utmost importance that the Settlement Agreement is drafted properly, otherwise a party will have to approach the court again on application which will involve further legal costs. This happened in the case of Maharaj v Maharaj, where the parties divorced and no mention was made about pension in regard to the division of the joint estate. A claim was made for 50% of the proceeds of the pension benefit, but the court held that a simple division of the joint estate was not sufficient to award a former spouse a portion of the member’s pension interest. The court must make a specific award. The Fund must be specifically named in the court order, preferably with its registration number and the court order must order the fund to endorse its records with the provisions with the order. Once the order has been received by the fund administrator, then, the records can be flagged. The fund will not be liable to pay interest to the non-member spouse as the Divorce Act does not allow payment of interest. The member will in his/her personal capacity be liable for payment of such interest.

So, for the order to be enforceable it must meet all the requirements of section 7(8) of the Divorce Act, namely:

1 The court must award to the non-member spouse a certain percentage of the member’s pension interest;

2 The order by the court must express a percentage of the pension interest.

3 The retirement fund must be named or capable of being ascertained;

4 The retirement fund must be ordered to make an endorsement in its records to ensure that the awarded part of the pension interest is paid to the non-member ex-spouse.

It is important that the parties understand exactly what is meant by “Pension interest”. Preservation funds are not included in the definition of pension interest and so divorce orders cannot be enforced against preservation funds unless they are registered in terms of the new definition of “pension interest” as per below. A preservation fund is a fund in which employees, who leave the service of an employer owing to dismissal (including retrenchment) or resignation, or in the event of the dissolution of the employer’s pension or provident fund, may invest their accrued fund benefits.

With effect from 1 November 2008, certain changes were introduced to the old definitions.

1 Pension or provident funds- Pension interest is defined as basically the fund value at date of divorce (no growth after date of divorce included)

2 Retirement annuity funds- return of contributions plus annual simple interest at a rate determined by the minister from time to time, subject to the simple interest being limited to the actual fund growth (still no growth after date of divorce included)

3 Preservation funds- An attempt has been made to include preservation funds into the definition of pension interest.

Section 37D(6) states that the value of the pension interest is the member’s value of the preservation fund as at the date of divorce. Once established that the divorce decree is enforceable against the pension fund, one need to understand how and when payment is made and what the tax consequences are.

What about tax?

For all divorce orders, even those granted before 13 September 2007, the ex-spouse would be entitled to payment of his/her share of the benefit immediately. The idea is that s/he would be able to invest the money in their personal capacity and enjoy the growth thereon, which seems on the face of it to be more equitable than the old regime.

Further legislative amendments (The Revenue Laws Amendment Act 60 of 2008) have resulted in the tax on the benefit being treated differently depending on the date of the divorce.

a) Divorces effective before 1 March 2009, the benefit will still be taxable in the hands of the member spouse should the non-member spouse select to take the benefit as a cash lump–sum. The member spouse is however able to recover the tax payable from the ex spouse, but is not able to recover the “tax on tax”. The ex-spouse also has the option to transfer the benefit to a retirement annuity fund or to some sort of preservation fund, which has yet to be clearly defined and established, but this transfer occurs after the tax has been paid by the member spouse.

b) Divorces effective after 1 march 2009; the benefit will be taxed in the hands of the non-member ex-spouse if s/he takes the benefit in cash. If it is transferred to another retirement fund, the transfer will be tax-free.

These benefits will be taxed as if the recipient is a separate taxpayer in terms of the new tax dispensation on withdrawal benefits.


Bertus Preller

B.Proc; AD Dip L Law

Family Law Attorney Abrahams and Gross Inc.

W: http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

Twitter: www.twitter/edivorce

Facebook: www.facebook.com/divorceattorneys

Top 10 Divorce Issues Of The Decade: Divorce Attorney Bertus Preller’s Perspective

This past decade has challenged many people in South Africa and around the world with through various emotional events. The outspoken Julius Malema, President Zuma’s acquittal, Shabir Shaik’s release from prison and the murders of Lolly Jackson and Eugene Terblanche, the 9-11, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Tsunami, the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the sacking of President Mbeki and the first African-American President. Many changes happened in the area of divorce and Family Law as well. The following, in no particular order, are my  top divorce and family law related issues since 2000:

The advent of the Internet and social networking

The immense impact of the virtual world and the internet on divorce. Social networking. The rise of Facebook, YouTube, and other sites, where people carelessly share their innermost secrets, with little concern for the consequences of detection by the wrong party. Sms, E-mails, bullying and “sexting” have had a noticeable impact on divorce, and the way family law attorneys handle their cases, and have also impacted our society as a whole.

The recognition of Same-Sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages have come to the forefront during the past several years, became legal in South Africa.

Divorcing without an Attorney

The tremendous rise in people filing for divorce on their own online through divorce services such as eDivorce, people can no longer afford to hire professional legal services.

Parental alienation

Parental alienation, which has been talked about, written about, and discussed, at length, exists in many of my cases. One parent systematically alienates the child/children against the other parent, with devastating and long-term results, not only to the child or children, but to both the parent being alienated, and most assuredly, the alienating parent.

Uprooting families

The poor economy and retrenchments have forced many people to seek employment in other provinces and countries, uprooting entire families and forcing children into unfamiliar surroundings and new schools.

Fathers becoming primary caregivers and parents of permanent residence

The significant increase in fathers becoming primary caregiver and the parent of permanent residence. In addition, there is a considerable increase in the number of couples opting for shared or joint parenting on an equal or close-to-equal basis.

Domestic Violence

The rise in domestic violence, especially with the stress caused by the economic nightmare of the past three years.

Debt Review

During the past two years, people have been inflicted with a brutal reality self-imposed credit card debt, resulting in a lack of financial resources to weather the storm. Couples stayed married, however, simply because of the financial decay each would undeniably face if a divorce action was pursued. Many of my recent divorce cases went hand-in-hand with debt problems.

Unamarried Fathers Rights

The parental rights unmarried fathers gained  automatically to their children was an absolue necessity in our law.

Bertus Preller

Family Law Attorney

Abrahams and Gross Inc.


Email: info@divorceattorney.co.za

Blog also at: http://www.divorceattorneys.wordpress.com

Adultery, infidelity on Facebook and Mxit

Adultery, infidelity on Facebook and Mxit

Social networks have made it easier for the infidelity that has grown exponentially with the advent of the internet, and whilst many would argue that virtual adultery can never be as bad as the real thing, even an online affair can be of great distress to the “victim.” The recent popularity of social networking websites like Facebook and Mxit have brought with them the possibility to make complete new friends with common interests, as well as to reconnect with those lost friends from school or your more recent past. Matrimonial investigations where once confined to the real world and the surveillance of partners were often a case of physical tracking of vehicles etc. However, with the advent of modern technology an effective matrimonial investigation needs to be able to work on a virtual as well as a physical level.

More and more frequently, otherwise sound marriages, are suffering from the use of online social networking sites like Facebook and Mxit. There are no figures or percentages yet to suggest that the rate of infidelity has risen with the growth of social networking sites.

But do social networking sites encourage flirtatious behaviour, and are they really to blame for a rise in adultery?

As anyone who has joined Facebook, will know that the first couple of weeks is often a race to add as many ‘friends’ as possible. It is also all too easy, and often irresistibly tempting, to look up old boyfriends or girlfriends or maybe just that guy from university or college you had that crush on, but never did anything about at the time, almost reliving that lost moment in time. Of course, it is only human to wonder what happened to people you were close to in the past.

The danger starts when that late night uninhibited surfing session, fuelled by that second glass of sauvignon blanc or cabernet, begets a ‘poke’ or a flirtatious message sent to an ex-lover or missed opportunity. One thing leads to another and you are soon exchanging emails reminiscing about the past; and the next thing you know you’re arranging to meet to catch up on old times and that is when the trouble starts.

It really doesn’t only apply to people known to you. The remote nature of the internet provides some people with a veil of anonymity which can lead them to act in a complete different way that they wouldn’t in a real life situation. People who are generally shy can often act much more confidently in a virtual situation, leading them to be much more flirtatious and socially assertive than they otherwise would. Asking someone out over the internet feels less risky than it does face to face, as it is only your avatar that is facing possible rejection.

Of course, social networking sites don’t make anyone cheat on their partner. They do make it easy to get in contact with people, and therefore provide the opportunity to cheat to someone who is that way inclined. They also provide a much greater chance of getting caught, as they provide an electronic trail of evidence to a suspicious partner who knows where to look. So, the problem is not so much the social networks, but human nature.

As a divorce attorney I have seen a huge increase in the recent years in people producing print outs of emails, instant messages, Facebook wall screenshots and sms messages to back up claims of their partner’s infidelity.

So how many exes does your current partner have on their list of Facebook friends? And for that matter how many do you have on yours? It is worth bearing in mind next time you receive a friend request and the option to ‘Confirm or Ignore?’ Is it someone you would be happy for your partner to know about? That is the question.

Finally, spare a thought for famous Emma Brady, reportedly the world’s first Facebook divorcee. She only found out that her husband wanted a divorce when friends started phoning her to console her on being dumped.

Some interesting facts appeared on the internet, altough the veracity thereof is unknown the stats are worth mentioning:

  • Only 46% of men believe that online affairs are adultery. (DivorceMag)
  • Up to 37% of men and 22% of women admit to having affairs. Researchers think the vast majority of the millions of people who visit chat rooms, have multiple “special friends”. (Dr. Bob Lanier, askbob.com)
  • One-third of divorce litigation is caused by online affairs. (The Fortino Group)
  • Approximately 70% of time on-line is spent in chartrooms or sending e-mail; of these interactions, the vast majority are romantic in nature. (Dr. Michael Adamse, PhD., co-author of “Affairs of the Net: The Cybershrinks’ Guide to Online Relationships”)

Written by: Bertus Preller

Family Law and Divorce Law Attorney

Abrahams and Gross Inc. Cape Town



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