Divorce Attorney Cape Town

Co-Parenting after Divorce, Tips from a Family Law Attorney


Co-parenting tips

Basic Conflict Resolution for Co-Parents

It’s hard enough as a married couple to keep lines of good communication open and flowing. It can seem like an insurmountable problem if you are divorced. Your old ways of nitpicking at each other, anger and frustration will crop up again. After all, if you and your former spouse don’t know each other’s hot buttons, who does?

If you find yourself in conflict with your co-parent, here are some tips:

You are Divorced Now

You are no longer a couple who is trying to stay together and work on your marital relationship. The focus of your relationship must now shift from being about the two of you to being about two separate individuals doing your best to raise your children in the most amicable, cooperative way possible.

Make a Resolution to Start Fresh

A very effective way to move into a new relationship as co-parents rather than spouses is to give each other a chance to start anew. Give each other a clean slate and an opportunity to build a new and different relationship, leaving past arguments behind you.

Demonstrate Respect

You’re a role model, and your children are watching you very, very closely. Showing your children that mom and dad can respect each other and resolve conflict respectfully will give them a good foundation for the conflict that arises in their own lives. Demonstrating respect involves a lot of non-verbal communication. Do your best to remain relaxed and focused, use a calm tone of voice and a concerned facial expression when tensions rise.

Don’t Put it Off

If conflict arises, meet it head on and deal with it immediately. If you sweep it under the rug, it could add to your stress level and grow from a small issue to a large resentment. If it is a major concern, discuss it in private, away from the children. Be hard on the problem, not on the people. Focus on solutions rather than guilt, shame and blame. Make sure you are listening to your former spouse as you brainstorm for solution. It is tempting to hear everything your ex says as “yadda yadda yadda,” so try to listen actively even though it may seem you’ve heard it all before.

Take the High Road

Once your children are grown, you won’t have to parent together any more in terms of caretaking, discipline, school, health issues, etc. and you’ll be out of the day-to-day contact which might be challenging you now. But keep an eye toward the future—it will be fun to be grandparents, and it will be easier if you can get along well enough to dance at your child’s wedding and not make them choose where the grandkids spend Thanksgiving. If you want your children to have a good relationship with both you AND your former spouse, there will be times when you may have to put your own feelings aside temporarily. Keep in mind that you only have the power to change the things you can, and the rest is just something you’ll have to let go.

Homes Sweet Homes

Your children now have two homes. To avoid conflict around custody and visitation schedules, be flexible, prompt and respectful. Also, don’t use transfer time to discuss problems. Put agenda items in writing for a meeting later.

Extracurricular Activities

There will be many school and sporting events that your children will have that they will want you both to attend. Be on your best behavior at these times and as polite and nice to your former spouse as possible. Even making subtle jabs at each other in front of the kids’ friends is humiliating and distracting. And no screwing around with coming late to practice, or skipping it altogether. Let your kids have a childhood.

Ask any adult child of divorce if this is good advice. I know it’s tempting to take the low road during your divorce (I am divorced and remarried myself). But the short run rush you get from that biting comment or throwing a monkey wrench into your co-parent’s plans is short lived, while the fall out may be permanent. Make your divorce easier on yourself by making it easier for your co-parent, not to mention your kids.

Compiled by Bertus Preller – Family and Divorce Law Attorney at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys in Cape Town, South Africa.

Source: Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin 2010), and Your Divorce Advisor (Simon & Schuster 2001) and a mediator at Peace Talks Mediation Services, Inc.

Divorce Questions: Interview with Bertus Preller Family and Divorce Law Attorney Cape Town


Divorce Questions: Interview with Bertus Preller Family Law Attorney

Most couples going through the end of their marriage ask the same divorce questions. Regardless of how long people were married, they still need to find a Family Law Attorney and sort through issues regarding property, finances, children, and emotional trauma. Having accurate information is a crucial part of the divorce and healing process.

Family and Divorce Law Attorney Bertus Preller is a Family Law Specialist. A graduate of the Free State and University of Johannesburg, he represents celebrities and other high-net worth individuals in their divorce proceedings in South Africa.

How does one choose a good divorce lawyer?

Everyone differs in what type of attorneys suits them. For instance, do they want an attorney who will parent them or an attorney who will partner with them? Naturally, there are other variables to consider as well, like reputation, credentials, experience, and background. Getting references from contacts a person knows and trusts, especially from one’s accountant, business attorney, estate planning attorney or therapist, is the best way to find a good divorce attorney.

Does the end of a marriage have to turn into a battle?

“No, it does not,” Bertus Preller said. However, there often is some battle over one issue or another-like the division of property or who gets custody of the children. It is normally the battles over control in one area or another that precipitated the divorce in the first place. If a couple could not get along during the marriage, often the divorce is simply an amplification of those problems. “I tend to try to follow a more collaborative approach in dealing with divorce matters, and consider a number of ways to settle issues, whether through mediation or negotiating the best possible outcome for the client. We tend to see a number of ill experienced mediators offering services such as divorce mediation, offering a quick break with less emotional trauma and less costs. This may be a good option, but the reality is that mediation can be more expensive than an uncontested divorce; the other problem is that some mediators have absolutely no understanding of the legal consequences of the patrimonial issues of the divorce. You simply can’t mediate a divorce with a degree in psychology when there are legal issues involved and it frequently happens that one party is in fact at the end of the day in a much worse position”.

How can parents minimise the affect of divorce on their children?

“They can and should leave the children out of their immediate battles at all times,” Bertus Preller said. “Whether during the divorce process itself or long after it has ended. Spouses have no right bringing children into the differences that they have with each other. They should also give the children support and understanding throughout the divorce trauma and always show the utmost respect to the other spouse no matter how hard that may seem.”

How do courts determine the distribution of assets if one spouse is a stay at home parent or earns substantially less than the other?

In a marriage in community of property, it is important to establish the net value of the communal estate at the date of divorce. Then one can establish what each party is entitled to. Often, spouses can’t agree on a division on the joint estate and a Receiver or Liquidator needs to be appointed to divide the assets. When a marriage in community of property dissolves through divorce, each spouse is entitled to 50% of the joint estate, which includes the parties’ pension benefits.

In a marriage out of community with accrual, an auditor often needs to be appointed to determine the accrual. Preller said however he’s been involved in a number of divorce matters where extremely wealthy people were married in community of property. They may not have received the proper legal advice, “or became so focussed on the wedding ceremony that they forget about the consequences of a failed marriage.

We’re getting divorced because my spouse cheated on me. How do I make him/her “pay” for this mistake?

“Seeking vengeance is never the answer,” Bertus Preller said. “There is an old Spanish proverb: ‘Living well is the best revenge,’ is what the injured party should focus on and strive for. There is no win in trying to make someone pay for any betrayal in a marriage. However, in terms of South African law an aggrieved spouse is able to claim compensation against a third party who was the cause of the divorce.

I’m trying to be reasonable, but my spouse and I just can’t agree on major issues like who gets custody of the kids or who should keep the house. What should I do?

“Seek the advice of your attorney,” Bertus Preller said. “A mediation session might help with a respected attorney. This is what you pay your attorney to do: resolve major issues and help you come to reasonable solutions. If all else fails you may have to take your case to court and have the judge decide, but this is not always the best possible way, settlement soon in the proceedings is always the best outcome for everyone”

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 Bertus Preller & Associates 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 father’s rights, domestic violence matters and international divorce law.

Divorce and Finances some Tips by Divorce Attorney Bertus Preller


You wouldn’t think that a divorce attorney would be the first person to give advice on how best to prevent a divorce, but then, Bertus Preller, Family and Divorce Law Attorney at Bertus Preller & Associates Inc. in Cape Town isn’t your average divorce attorney. He is one of the most prominent divorce attorneys based in South Africa, having handled many high-profile divorces of television personalities, artists and sportsmen.

Preller shared some advice when interviewed by newsbreak.

The success or failure of your marriage relationship may hinge on how well you deal with issues such as finances, sexuality, communication, conflict, parenting, in-laws, leisure time, family of origin, spirituality, expectations, and chores.

When exactly is the best time to begin talking seriously about finances with your partner?

To me, the finance talk is a pretty comprehensive discussion about how you and your partner will handle the money that comes in and goes out of your life. If you come from two different “schools” on this topic, it can be a difficult discussion to have. For someone that’s more of a “spender” they may try to deflect having the conversation at all.  You have to talk about finances at two points in the relationship. The first is when you decide to move in together and blend households, and the second is if and when you merge finances. One should never wait when things are starting to get crappy and you’re already bickering about money. When things are harmonious, you sit down and talk about these things; it will engender feelings of love and trust. You just don’t do it when things are in turmoil.

What specifically should be discussed?

If you have credit card debt, what are your thoughts on it?  Is it something you view as a part of life, or is it somewhere in the future to get it paid off? If one has it and one doesn’t, will it be paid off jointly?

How do you feel about purchases that you can’t afford? Do you go into debt to get them or do you wait until you can pay for them?

How will your finances be set up? Will everything become joint, or remain separate?

How does each spouses’ salary come into play? If one makes more than the other, does that change the makeup of the financial relationship? Meaning, will that person have more say in financial decisions, or not?

I recently read an interview with Laura Wasser a prominent Divorce Lawyer in the United States who highlighted a couple of good pointers.

“Family. How much time and money are you going to want to spend on existing family? Do we want to start our own?

Hobbies. What about if he is a golfer and he goes on these extremely expensive golf trips and her hobby is painting and she buys a few oil paints every 3 years. I mean, those are the kind of things that need to be discussed.

Travel. I mean, obviously if you guys have been dating for a while, you’re going to know what each of you likes–is he a backpacker? Are you a spa girl? But at the same time, there are plenty of people who say, ‘look, I’m 40 years old, I don’t ever want to fly anything but business class again.’ That should be discussed.

Shopping. I still know women who have been married for years, but when they come home from a shopping trip they hide their bags in the car until their husband has gone out, and then they kind of bring them in piecemeal, and unwrap them and take tags off because they don’t want their husbands to know what they’ve been purchasing. So shopping–what’s the expectation?

Entertaining and Entertainment. If you’re going to have his work people over, your work people over, are you going to cater? Cook? If you have children, what are their birthday parties going to be like? Is he going to be offended if you want to have the birthday party catered or valet parking? And what are the expectations for spending on entertainment outside the home–concerts, movies, theatre, that sort of thing?

Charitable contributions. This is a big one. People like to be able to do what they want to do with their money. Many people have very strong feelings about what kind of charitable contributions they make. It’s important to have a conversation about how much of your income is going be put in there.

Meals. Are you going to cook at home or eat out most nights? If you’re going out, which caliber (and price range) of restaurant? Are you taking packed lunches to work versus doing expensive work lunches or lunches with the girls?

Savings and investments. How much of your income do you want to put away each year? If one person is spending all of their income on clothes, travel, hobbies, and entertaining, and one person is saving it, that may not be quite fair if and when you guys split up, depending on what the law is and what you decided to do.

Estate planning issues. Wills, life insurance policies. This is definitely more a marriage one–something to talk about a little further down the line. Maybe earlier on, you may want to deal with insurance, like auto and health. You don’t want to move in with someone and find out that they don’t have auto or health insurance. That’s a rude awakening.

Gifts. How much are you spending on gifts?

Home décor and home remodelling. Again, what’s the expectation?”

So your advice is taking this list and going through it, just as you would do with a financial planner?

Almost in the same way. Why wouldn’t you have such a conversation with someone you’re sharing your life with instead of with the person who is just getting paid to take care of you?

Why is it so important to have these conversations at the start of a relationship?

You will be amazed sitting from where I sit at the things I hear from people regarding the arguments that they’ve gotten into about finances. Bottom line, these are things that you don’t want to have resentment about later because they haven’t been discussed.

What if the financial circumstances change during the course of the relationship?

You have to constantly re-evaluate your circumstances. Check in either on an annual basis. It’s very interesting to see couples who have been married for a very long time and when and if they split up, one of them would say ‘I just had no idea that the situation was so dire!’ Whether things go up in terms of household economy or down, if you’re in it for the long haul, then you would tighten your belts together, and if things are good, you splurge together. Usually you here the women saying, ‘I’m so embarrassed but you’d have no idea what we spend, I have no idea what my husband makes. I just don’t know. I never worried about it.’ I think if you are going to be in a relationship with someone, you need to be able to share the responsibilities, the knowledge, and the worry. It’s not like it was when our parents or their parents were having lives where the mom worked in the kitchen and the husband worried about it and the wife didn’t know there was any problem. I mean, you should both be aware of what’s going on.

You need to continue to communicate and work together, always remembering you are working towards the same goal. You can do this by:

  • Communicating. As soon as you start avoiding talking about money with your spouse, or hiding new purchases then you are going to deviate from the plan, and it will be hard to get back on track.
  • Having money discussions. Instead, of ignoring issues with your finances, talk about it with your partner and if something isn’t working, work out why. You’ll then be able to find a solution together, and that is what marriage is all about.
  • Monitoring net worth. Your net worth is a good indicator of how well you are sticking to your budgets and financial plans, and as a couple you should revisit your net worth each month to make sure it is going up and not down.
  • Revisiting your goals and plans. It is all very well to make plans for the future, but we all know that unexpected events can pop up and change these plans. Therefore, make sure you continue to track your progress towards your goals, and readjust your ideas for the future if necessary.

About 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 Bertus Preller & Associates 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

Divorce Settlement Agreements in South Africa


In South Africa it is accepted practice to regulate the consequences of a divorce by means of a Settlement Agreement between the parties. In most divorces the parties enter into a settlement agreement, also called a consent paper or deed of settlement in which they agree on matters such as the division of the assets, payment of maintenance, care of and contact to the children and the payment of costs of the proceedings.

Parties in a divorce matter may include any provision in their deed of settlement which is not impossible, illegal, or contrary to good morals. They may for example agree on a division of their assets that differ completely from the normal rules regarding the matrimonial property system that regulates their marriage. For example the parties may agree that neither will have a claim for the accrual against the other and that each party will simply retain his or her own assets.

In terms of the Divorce Act the court may incorporate the spouses’ settlement into a court order if it is in writing. Once the settlement agreement is made an order of the court a party may only vary or amend it on application to the court. The parties may do so by mutual consent, it is important to note that any amendment to the settlement agreement should be made an order of court.

If one of the parties disagrees to amend or vary the settlement, the aggrieved party may approach the court on application in terms of Section 8 (1) of the Divorce Act for variation or rescission if a particular provision relates to guardianship, custody, access or maintenance. If the dispute relates to maintenance the maintenance court may be approached in terms of the Maintenance Act.

If the settlement agreement is not incorporated into the divorce order it is merely a contract and it can therefore not be enforced in the same way as an order of court.

Written by:

Bertus Preller

Family Law Attorney

Abrahams and Gross Inc.

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

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

(ArticlesBase SC #3934823)

 

Divorce Application Forms


If you intend to get divorced in South Africa, the best way would be to use an online Divorce Service like eDivorce. The process is easy and without hassle, simply fill in the online divorce application form and your papers will be ready in less than 24 hours.

The eDivorce process has three Divorce Plans from which you can choose:

The Silver Plan – R 950 + Sheriff Fee of between R 100 – R 150 – The best DIY divorce service to meet all your needs

  • All your divorce forms – Summons, Particulars of Claim, Annexure A, Government Statistic Form and Settlement Agreement, 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 hours guaranteed
  • Divorce in 6 – 8 weeks

The Silver + Plan – R 2 000 – Partially DIY

  • All your divorce forms – Summons, Particulars of Claim, Annexure A, Government Statistic Form and Settlement Agreement, completed for you by the eDivorce platform and checked by divorce experts
  • Step-by-Step Guide -Written in plain English and easy to follow
  • Issuing of papers and registering at Court
  • Delivering of papers to sheriff
  • You collect served papers from sheriff and file and obtain divorce date at court
  • Divorce in 6 – 8 weeks

The Gold Plan – Managed Divorce Service – R 5 000 all inclusive by Specialist Divorce Attorney

We will not charge you by the hour or minute to deal with your divorce. The price you pay is fixed from the start of your case and includes everything you will need.

Why choose our Gold Plan Managed Divorce Service?

  • No complicated form filling – We will do that for you
  • 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 3 weeks -Fast service guaranteed
  • Attorney supervised – All services supervised by an Attorney
  • Appearance at Court – We appoint an Attorney or Advocate to appear on your behalf at Court
  • Professional and Trustworthy

How to Find a Good Divorce Attorney in South Africa


A life ruined by a poor choice of a divorce attorney is a real possibility.

Divorce in South Africa can be a very complex matter which requires a considerable degree of expertise on the part of an attorney. Divorces are tricky situations and should be handled with care. Your divorce attorney must understand the sensitivity of the issue. He should be compassionate and aim at resolving the case peacefully. People read in the newspapers about large divorce settlements and people will say the person must have had a good divorce attorney. It’s probably true, in all likelihood they’ve employed a high-powered, and very expensive, attorney who specialises in divorce work and know how to make the best of all the facts available.

Most of people, however, don’t have the deep pockets to afford that kind of legal representation in divorce or Family Court proceedings. But even for ordinary mortals, can a good attorney make a real difference?

The emotional context of a divorce is often built on feelings of loss, betrayal, humiliation, financial uncertainty, guilt, anxiety, the fear of losing one’s access to one’s children and loss of custody of such children. Too often, the process of bringing a divorce to a sensible  resolution is bedeviled by emotional factors, which, if not properly managed, can then be acted out in costly divorce wars. An attorney who has the necessary experience and insight into the psychological circumstances of the divorce in question, will be far more capable in assisting the client to “see the road ahead”.

The attorney must structure an appropriate and affordable service within the reach of the client. It is part of the job of an experienced divorce attorney to help the client properly access the financial resources.

Here are two points to consider:

  • Find an attorney who specializes in divorce, ideally within a law firm specializing in family law and divorce. An attorney who specializes in divorce (and has done so for some time) will have a greater depth of experience and expertise than an attorney who does not. This may seem obvious but there is a hidden danger. Unlike the medical profession, there are no rules and regulations governing when an attorney may or may not call themselves a “specialist.”
  • Look for a divorce attorney with extensive experience. Find a divorce attorney who has been practicing for some years and has practiced for many or most of these as a family law and divorce specialist.

DivorceAttorney is one of the specialist Divorce Law Firms in South Africa and also the first Virtual Law firm in South Africa who specialises in divorce and family law matters. Divorce Attorney goes beyond the constraints of “brick and mortar” law firms to provide excellent legal services both on and offline on a national basis at rates lower than those of conventional law firms. Powered by a sophisticated digital infrastructure, Divorce Attorney eliminates costs and minimizes environmental impact, while significantly lowering administrative costs and overheads. Divorce Attorney was designed to be better for clients.

Here’s how:

  • Better Progress Information: Clients have the ability to monitor the progress much more closely than conventional law firms. The attorneys enter their progress reports and drafted documentation weekly, and the information is immediately posted to a password-protected MyDA homepage. Where clients can view the running progress on a case.
  • Better Legal Cost Control: Where there were no agreement on a flat rate clients are given the ability to monitor their legal costs much more closely than conventional law firms. The attorneys enter their time at least weekly, and their time is immediately posted to your password-protected MyDA homepage. Clients can also communicate with us through the MyDA homepage.
  • Lower Billing Rates: Rates are less than the rates of attorneys with comparable experience at large law firms, due to our lower overheads.  They do projects on a “flat fee” basis if clients prefer.
  • Better Technology: Divorce Attorney have developed tools unique to the legal industry to connect with their clients.
  • Better Investigation Teams: Divorce Attorney have teamed up with formidable investigation agencies to obtain all the information you need for purposes of contested divorce cases.

For more information visit Divorce Attorney South Africa at http://www.divorceattorney.co.za for contested divorces or visit eDivorce at http://www.edivorce.co.za for uncontested divorces.

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