Divorce Attorney Cape Town

The Long Term Effects of Divorce on Children


More and more scientific information is being accumulated about the long-term effects that a divorce has on children. Until quite recently, most of what we knew was about the immediate or the so-called short-term effects of divorce, but long-term studies are providing more insights about the effects of divorce on the formation of intimate relationships and marriages in adulthood.

The major finding that gets the most attention is the slightly increased likelihood that children of a divorce will also divorce one day.

One interesting new report on the long-term effects of divorce on intimate relationships was conducted in Finland and reported in the Journal of Family Psychology (2011). A group of scientists at the National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Helsinki conducted a 16-year follow-up study of 1471 teenagers in one Finnish community. Ulla Mustonen and colleagues were surveyed the intimate relationships of these adults at 32 years of age and the role that parent-child relationships may have played in their adult relationships.

In keeping with past research, they found that children with divorced parents were somewhat more likely to be separated or divorced in young adulthood. Additionally, young women whose parents divorced were also less likely to have been married. Surprisingly, parental divorce showed no predictive relationship with divorce for young men.

On the other hand, there were a number of important findings about the ways in which parental divorce really affected young women. Though parental divorce itself did have a direct effect on young women’s chances of divorce, the major effect of divorce on young women was the mother-daughter relationship in adolescence. Parental divorce tended to undermine the mother-daughter relationship; however, when a positive relationship was maintained, this resulted in better self-esteem and satisfaction with social support in young adulthood, which contributed to better intimate relationships.

This finding means that one of the key factors in fostering the long-term well-being of children of divorce is through strengthening positive parent-child relationships. For this study, a positive parent-child relationship was more important for women than men, but the importance of these adolescent relationships should not be overlooked as we think about programs and policies to foster the long-term health of children.

These findings highlight a key direction for future research on the effects of divorce on children. The mere finding that these children may be more at-risk of difficulties should no longer occupy so much of our attention. The important work is understanding the factors within relationships and family process that contribute to these outcomes and identifying opportunities to buffer the negative effects while building on the positive factors. Much progress in improving children’s well-being is possible and deserving of more attention.

Article appeared in Huffington Post

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Top South African Divorce Attorney shares information on Antenuptial Agreements or Prenup Agreements


Top South African Divorce Attorney shares information on Antenuptial or Prenup Agreements

We tapped the brain of Bertus Preller one of Cape Town’s best divorce and family law attorneys on Antenuptial or Prenup Agreements. Bertus Preller is based in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town and litigates in divorce matters across the country. He is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times. His clients include celebrities, actors and actresses, sportsmen and sportswomen, television presenters and various high net worth individuals as well as ordinary people. He has a deep passion for matters involving children. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, International Divorce Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried father’s rights, domestic violence matters.

What is an Antenuptial agreement?

It is a contract entered into by two people, prior to their marriage, in which they stipulate the terms and conditions for the exclusion of the community of property between them. It ensures that one spouse’s creditors cannot hold the other person liable for repayment of debt, unlike when people marry without entering into an Antenuptial Contract, i.e. ‘in community of property’.

An Antenuptial Contract can also include any terms and conditions as long as they are not contrary to public policy. Most of these terms and conditions relate to the division of assets should the marriage be dissolved due to either death or divorce. During the marriage each spouse will retain his/her separate property and would have complete freedom to deal with that property as he/she chooses. This would not be the case if the parties were married ‘in community of property’.

Who needs an Antenuptial agreement?

While antenuptial agreements (“prenups”) are recommended to anyone for whom they make good economic and personal sense.

People who may benefit from prenups include those who:

  • Have assets, even if they are not considered wealthy
  • Owned a business prior to getting married
  • Have children from a previous marriage
  • Will marry someone with a poor financial track record, high-risk business investments
  • Want to avoid the emotional and financial stress associated with a contested divorce
  • Want a quick and inexpensive method of ending their marriage, if it should fail eventually
  • Want to protect their assets in the event of divorce or death

What types of issues can be included in an Antenuptial agreement?

Antenuptial agreements or prenups can include provisions relating to:

  • The rights and obligations of each of the parties regarding property owned or acquired by either, at any time and wherever located
  • The exclusion of property or business
  • Donations made to a spouse
  • The allocation, division and distribution of the parties’ assets and debts upon divorce or death
  • Any other matter that isn’t illegal or in violation of public policy

Should an Antenuptial agreement be considered cast in stone or can it be varied during the course of the marriage?

It is possible to change your Antenuptial agreement on application to the High Court.

What is meant by a Marriage out of Community of Property?

Each spouse retains his or her own assets and liabilities whether acquired before or during marriage. There is no sharing of profits and losses. Both spouses have full and independent contractual capacity. Upon death or divorce, each spouse keeps control over their own assets. This clearly gives parties absolute independence of contractual capacity and protects the estates of each party against claims by the other party’s creditors. There is no provision for any sharing whatsoever. A party who contributed to the other party’s estate whether in cash or otherwise would have a heavy onus to prove that he or she was entitled to anything from that party’s estate on dissolution of the marriage. Where one party stays at home to raise children and does not contribute financially towards the marriage and the other spouse works and accumulates assets, the former may find herself with nothing and no claim to the assets of the latter. The marriage is governed by a contract known as an ante nuptial contract which is concluded by the parties before the marriage. If the marriage occurred after 1 November 1984, the contract had to specifically exclude the system of accrual. In the absence of this exclusion the rules of accrual will automatically apply.

What is meant by a Marriage out of Community of Property with Inclusion of the Accrual System?

The Matrimonial Property Act 88 of 1984 brought with it the “accrual” system which permits a form of sharing, consistent with a primary objective of marriage, but permitting retention of each party’s independence of contract and ability to retain their own unique separate estates. “Accrual” means increase. The accrual system is a form of sharing of the assets that are built up during the marriage. The underlying philosophy in respect of the accrual system is that each party is entitled to take out the asset value that he or she brought into the marriage, and then they share what they have built up together. One spouse’s property cannot be sold to pay the other’s creditors if the other becomes insolvent – in contrast to the case where the parties are married in community of property. It is of utmost importance that a party wishing to enter into an Ante Nuptial Contract must fully understand what it is they are signing. It is for this reason that a standard form contract cannot be used, that consultations cannot be held over the phone or by means of email and that, unfortunately. The important features of an accrual marriage are in essence the following: Each party retains his or her own estate. Each party may accumulate assets and incur liabilities without interference from or assistance of the other spouse. The estate of each party is determinable separately. The monetary value of the smaller estate is subtracted from the monetary value of the larger estate, the difference is split, and the party having the larger estate pays half of the difference between the two estates to the party with the smaller estate. At dissolution of the marriage, the estate of each party is calculated by listing all assets, listing all liabilities, subtracting liabilities from assets and arriving at a net asset value. In practical terms this amounts to a similar division to a marriage in community of property. However there are certain crucial factors of an accrual marriage which add complexity and much more freedom of choice. When drafting the Ante Nuptial Contract, the parties can each decide to exclude certain assets. The effect of excluding an asset will be that it does not feature on the asset statement at dissolution of the marriage and is completely excluded from the calculation. Assets which are not properly described can cause huge problems when the executor or the divorce attorney tries to decide what to do with it in calculating the net accrual value. To exclude either a specific asset, or a commencement value, or both (which must be separate and not derived from the same asset), can effectively ensure that couples share only what they choose to share and keep separate any item or items, or values, which they do not believe it fair to share (for example something acquired before the relationship commenced). Parties not wishing to exclude specific assets may exclude a certain sum of money which is the agreed equivalent of assets which they do not wish to share, and which is termed a “commencement value”. Excluded from the Accrual Certain property belonging to either the husband or the wife may not be taken into account when the accruals are worked out: Any damages awarded to either spouse for defamation or for pain and suffering; Any inheritances, legacies or gifts that either spouse has received during the marriage, unless the parties have agreed in their antenuptial contract to include these or the donor has stipulated their inclusion; A donation made by one spouse to the other. This is not taken into account as part of either the giver’s or the receiver’s estate, with the result that the giver cannot recover part of what he or she gave and the receiver need not return any of it.

SAMPLE OF AN ANTENUPTUAL AGREEMENT WITH ACCRUAL

This agreement is a sample and is of a general nature. Certain additions and ammendments may be required to suit your specific needs.

It is hereby certified that a R10.00 stamp is affixed to the original contained in my protocol register. PROTOCOL NO : _________________________

ANTENUPTIAL CONTRACT

with the

APPLICATION OF THE ACCRUAL SYSTEM

in terms of the

MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY ACT, 1984

BE IT HEREBY MADE KNOWN THAT on this _________________day of ________________________ 2011 before me

(INSERT NAME OF NOTARY PUBLIC) Notary Public, practising at Pretoria in the Province of _______

appeared

FULL NAME: _______________________ IDENTITY NUMBER: ________________ UNMARRIED

-and-

FULL NAME: ________________________ IDENTITY NUMBER: _________________ UNMARRIED

And the appears declared that whereas a marriage has been agreed upon, and is intended to be solemnised between them, they have agreed and now contract with each other as follows :

1. That there shall be no community of property between them.

2. That there shall be no community of profit or loss between them.

3. That the marriage shall be subject to the accrual system in terms of the provisions of Chapter 1 of the Matrimonial Act, 1984 (Act No. 88 of 1984).

4. That for the purposes of proof of the nett value of their respective estates to be as follows: that of (INSERT FULL NAME) to be R 000.00 consisting of :_______ (INSERT DETAILS) that of (INSERT FULL NAME) to be ZERO

5. That the assets of the parties or either of them, which are listed hereunder, having the values shown, and all liabilities presently therewith, or any other asset acquired by such party by virtue of his possession of former possession of such asset, shall not be taken into account as part of such party’s estate at either the commencement or the dissolution of the marriage.

The assets of (INSERT FULL NAME) so to be excluded are R000.00 consisting of : (INSERT DETAILS)

The assets of (INSERT FULL NAME) so to be excluded are NONE

THUS DONE AND EXECUTED at _________________________aforesaid on the day, month and year first aforewritten in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.

AS WITNESSES:

1.

2.                                                      ………………………………………………………

THUS DONE AND EXECUTED at _________________________aforesaid on the day, month and year first aforewritten in the presence of the undersigned witnesses.

AS WITNESSES:

1.

2.                                                      ………………………………………………………

QUOD ATTESTOR NOTARY

Parental Alienation Disorder


Father’s Rights activists in the USA have been attempting to have Parental Alienation Disorder added to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), the American Psychiatric Association’s “bible” of diagnoses.

Parental Alienation Syndrome explains a child’s estrangement from one parent or allegations of abuse at the hands of one parent by blaming the other. The theory, developed by the late Richard A. Gardner, M.D., portrays the preferred parent as an evil “alienator” who is virtually solely responsible for turning a vulnerable child against their estranged parent. Parental alienation syndrome occurs when one parent’s efforts to consciously or unconsciously brainwash a child combine with the child’s own bad-mouthing of the other parent. In severe cases, the child won’t want to see or talk to the alienated parent.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is a disturbance in the child who, in the context of divorce, becomes preoccupied with deprecation and criticism of one parent, which designation is unjustified or exaggerated or both. Parental Alienation Syndrome arises primarily from a combination of parental influence and a child’s active contribution to the campaign of deprecation, factors which may mutually reinforce one another.

Parental Alienation Syndrome may be divided into three categories – severe, moderate and mild. Although there is actually a continuum, and many cases do not fit neatly into one of the three classifications, the differentiation is important. The alienation of the child is gradual and consistent. It becomes worse if the child has no time with the targeted parent. Time is on the side of the alienating parent. Children who are exposed to Parental Alienation Syndrome may develop mental illnesses; it can have profound long-term consequences. Studies of adults who had been victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome when they were young showed that the Parental Alienation Syndrome impacted on their ability to trust and to believe in things like honesty and openness and those relationships with members of the opposite sex can work. Parents should be able to trust each other but children who had been victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome believed that the alienated parent could not be trusted. The studies showed that, as the persons concerned had grown up and severed ties with the alienating parent, they discovered that many of the things that they had been told by that parent were not true. They discovered that the targeted parent was not as bad as they had been led to believe and, in some cases, that he was in fact ‘a good guy’. The young person then found himself or herself in the position that he or she could no longer trust the alienating parent but at the same time could not trust the targeted parent. In many of the cases, the studies showed that the person concerned was maladjusted and failed in inter-personal relationships. Typically, when a child is aware of the alienation it is not happy.

Parental alienation syndrome is not a gender specific issue. It was once believed women were the main perpetrators of parental alienation, but no longer almost 50% are men. Perpetrators who are men tend to be narcissistic, characterized by a sense of entitlement, arrogance and low empathy. Female alienators often have borderline personalities, marked by insecurities, neediness, a strong fear of abandonment and chronic emptiness.

When it comes to parental alienation the focus should be on the child who has a right to equal time with both father and mother.

Making parental alienation a disorder instead of a syndrome has nothing to do with whether or not you have a “uterus, divorce papers and bruises.” Most mothers put their children’s needs first. Most fathers do the same.

It is trite in family law that the ‘best interests’ of each child is paramount in determining the contact and care of and access arrangements to such child. Such interests have been described as ‘an elusive concept’.

In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the Court must decide which of the parents is better able to promote and ensure his physical, moral, emotional and spiritual welfare. This can be assessed by reference to certain factors or criteria which are set out hereunder, not in order of importance, and also bearing in mind that there is a measure of unavoidable overlapping and that some of the listed criteria may differ only as to nuance. The criteria are the following:

  • the love, affection and other emotional ties which exist between parent and child and the parent’s compatibility with the child;
  • the capabilities, character and temperament of the parent and the impact thereof on the child’s needs and desires;
  • the ability of the parent to communicate with the child and the parent’s insight into, understanding of and sensitivity to the child’s feelings;
  • the capacity and disposition of the parent to give the child the guidance which he requires;
  • the ability of the parent to provide for the basic physical needs of the child, the so-called ‘creature comforts’, such as food, clothing, housing and the other material needs – generally speaking, the provision of economic security;
  • the ability of the parent to provide for the educational well-being and security of the child, both religious and secular;
  • the ability of the parent to provide for the child’s emotional, psychological, cultural and environmental development;
  • the mental and physical health and moral fitness of the parent;
  • the stability or otherwise of the child’s existing environment, having regard to the desirability of maintaining the status quo;
  • the desirability or otherwise of keeping siblings together;
  • the child’s preference, if the Court is satisfied that in the particular circumstances the child’s preference should be taken into consideration;
  • the desirability or otherwise of applying the doctrine of same sex matching;
  • any other factor which is relevant to the particular case with which the Court is concerned.

Compiled by: Bertus Preller

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.

http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

Interview with one of Cape Town’s Best Divorce Attorneys Bertus Preller


Interview with one of Cape Town’s Top Divorce Attorneys Bertus Preller at Abrahams and Gross Inc.

Why do people and celebrities from all over South Africa come to you for divorce and family law matters?

Well, firstly, I guess it is because I care a great deal, I work hard and I am involved personally in my client’s cases. I am only as good as the team behind me and our office staff and junior attorneys really assist in alleviating a lot of the pressure associated with my work

What is a typical day look like for you?

I commence work at 5am in the mornings doing my normal correspondence until 7am, drop my daughter at school at 8 am and start seeing clients from 9am till 3pm by the hour, three days a week other days I will be in Court. Evening times I use to read and blog on Family Law issues, study case law and spend time with my family.

You are also the founder of eDivorce a do it yourself divorce platform in South Africa, can you tell us more about this?

eDivorce is a divorce document generating platform and generates all the documents that you will need to conclude an uncontested divorce in South Africa with a click of a button.

So how does the eDivorce process work?

A user will browse a web page, http://www.edivorce.co.za fill in a questionnaire and the technology platform will then generate all the necessary documents such as the Summons, Particulars of Claim, Settlement Agreement, Family Advocate Affidavit, Notice of Set Down and Statistics Form. A team of experts then checks whether the documents were drafted correctly and release them to the user. The document generation process takes 24-hours and the divorce itself, depending which court you file in takes between 3 – 8 weeks.

How many divorces have you handled so far?

It is difficult to say, more than 400.

What are the reasons why people divorce in South Africa?

There are so many reasons, but the most frequent reasons are infidelity, physical, emotional or verbal abuse, money, in-law problems, life transitions, addictions, childhood baggage, different life agendas, life overload, mid life crisis and controlling behaviour.

Are you not concerned about the high divorce rate in South Africa?

Yes, most definitely. A healthy society is built on a solid marital foundation and it is the reason why I urge my client’s always to reconcile if the slightest possibility exist to make things work. If that is not possible, then my roll becomes clinical and the interests of my client and the minor children come first.

Are people generally up to scratch with their rights in a divorce?

Yes and No. The internet and media have played a significant role in educating people on all aspects of life, so in many instances you will find that a party in a divorce matter will know what he/she will be entitled to claim, but in other instances people seem to lack that knowledge, especially women.

Don’t you get subjectively involved in your clients lives?

In order to be successful you have to look at a case clinically. Like a doctor operating on a patient. You have to distance yourself from the emotional aspects. But yes, there are times that you are touched by the hurt of the parties involved, especially when there are children involved. So to answer your question, I am human after all.

Don’t you think people give up to easy in their marriage?

It is difficult to say. It depends on the facts of each case. In a matter concerning adultery, it is very difficult for instance. People can forgive, but forgetting is rather difficult, so unless there is not a huge effort from both spouses to mend the relationship, it will not work and divorce will be inevitable. But then there are many instances where parties can mend their relationships and where opting for divorce would be wrong. Unfortunately life has become like a remote control, if you don’t dig the channel you simply click and change it, so if you don’t like the relationship you click and move on, I don’t think that is a good thing for society as a whole.

What advice can you give to someone going through a divorce?

When there are children involved you have to set the emotions apart and make decisions in the best interests of the children. Divorce is always an emotional rollercoaster and although how difficult it may sound, you have to think with your brain and not with your heart. Relationships are all about control, like using a remote to change the TV channels, one of the parties constantly changes the channels, the kids, the money etc. and that is where many problems surface.

Bertus Preller can be contacted on email at: info@divorceattorney.co.za or at http://www.divorceattorney.co.za

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