We, in South Africa, have some of the highest statistics in the world, when it comes to divorce rates. The increasing concern is, divorce happens all the more, and, it happens so much more where people are married ‘young’ (early tweens, 20’s, and more).
It might be because of getting married too young, too much random sex resulting in unwed babies, innocent love, who knows; but it being so easy to divorce around here or for various other reasons, fact is, we can get married quickly and get divorced even more so.
So around here, since we get married so easily, we get divorced easily as well; as mentioned.
The issue afterwards is, what do we do with the kids, and all the financial claims arriving afterwards?
I always ask, why do you want to pop out babies at that early age, when you only got married (or even before getting married) before you and your husband even have settled and know you future planning ( We probably never will receive an answer).
A recent question on a FB group Page I belong to, kick-started me thinking again (after neglecting my Blog for so long).
If you don’t mind, I am going to randomly address only some of the questions posted here –
- Who pays maintenance?
- Does the Dad also have to support the Mum until, whenever?
- What is Mum’s contribution?
- What happens if it is Infidelity?
- What is Dad’s role, if any?
- Maintenance vs Alimony?
Each household and marriage agreement, might also differ. And then of course, we have several laws playing a role here.
Divorce proceedings and maintenance have changed quite a lot since the ‘new’ Children’s Act of 2005/6 in SA (If I recall the dates correctly). Basically, all children have the right to still be kept in the same/similar lifestyle they were accustomed to when their parents’ divorce (however the Court will surely not grant them DSTV if no parent can afford this!) and of course, if it is not possible anymore to keep up Emily’s private horse riding and Kosie’s private lessons in Kaia Kwon Du (if such a thing exists) – no Court will and should enforce this.
Children always will according to Law, be allowed to still see both parents, and still receive parental love and visitations/ see both parents (as well as grandparents and extended family) regularly (if in case of abuse, social welfare stories and supervision).
The focus has shifted to the rights of children, not those of parents. None of us have the ‘right’ of being a parent and I presume the reasons are self-explanatory – doing the beast with two backs and biological insemination does NOT make you a parent – though so many people mistakenly still might believe since they sired a child, they have so many rights.
(It’s heart breaking also, that so many parents turn to false accusations in order to claim maintenance and alimony, in SA especially, but this is not the topic of conversation here).
Parents have equal say in the upbringing of the child/ren, does not matter who is the primary custodian (where the children stay). The courts recognise the rights of both parents with regards to decisions affecting children that are minors. This means that, even if i.e. the father is not the custodian parent, his consent is still required along with that of the mother in certain matters, including: which school, religion, the child getting married; application for a passport; and especially - removal of the child across provinces, or national borders.
The biological dad always has to pay maintenance – unless it is the mother who earns more and the dad takes primary custody of the children, etc and then various other situations. Since 2012 I think? custodian parents can also start claiming ‘back pay/maintenance’). (My dates may be out of sync).
Then Dad has to keep in mind, every year due to economy & inflation, Mum can go back to court and ask increased maintenance as well (and here I wish to add to whether it might be Mum or Dad, do not stop claiming maintenance – here we also have sufficient cases to prove both Mums and Dads filing for bankruptcy, in order to sidestep paying maintenance). I do not agree with any parent getting away without paying required maintenance.
Now, a couple of other laws also come into play. Amongst others, if parents were married within community of property, the wife might get away even with claiming half of the husband’s pension fund (and yes, it still happens today where people make this mistake when getting married) – or, the husband can claim his half of the wife’s pension.
Maintenance is strictly towards the children, and then both parents have to contribute, preferably 50% each, or percentage wise according to their particular income per month. The Court will determine the percentages, according to your income/payslips.
In practice what happens is (what is wished for) Dad pays medical fund, Mum pays school funds, etc. If both are trying to play fair (which also seldom happens).
Infidelity does not play a role, the courts follow a ‘No Fault’ system, meaning that couples could site irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce - though you are allowed to proceed with a civil case against the ‘other person’ should you so wish. I might be out of place adding this, but even if one of the partners turn gay or claim gay as consequence of the marriage, there is no financial compensation.
Alimony is a different story – depends on how good your attorney is, and I suggest you get a good one. Most of the times the Mum (in SA according to stats) claims that Dad also has to pay her own lifestyle.
Here, it depends how good your attorney is. Because, if your wife were a ‘housewife’, a little known fact might be the Courts could grant her a year of alimony only, with the understanding she has to use that year to ‘school’ herself and get out to get a job (this could extent to another year or more). This also applies to Dads claiming alimony.
Once again, the Law can be on your side if you have a good attorney, or at least, Know your Rights!