How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Divorce and finances

I was recently approached by a magazine to give an opinion on the abovementioned topic, which seems to be quite popular nowadays, where people are struggling financially and not making ends meet.

The simple fact of the matter is that if you are not going to manage your money correctly while you are married, you’ll be far worse off when you get divorced than the couple who have invested their money properly during the marriage.

I recently had a case for example where a couple had bought a house for one million rand. They had put down no deposit on the house, and are now contemplating getting divorced. They then went and bought two brand new motor vehicles without putting down a deposit on them either. The woman was unemployed, while the man earned a gross monthly income of R40 000,00. Their monthly bond payments were R 12 000,00. They also had motor vehicle debits of R12 000,00 on their hire purchase instalments. Together with credit cards and other debts the couple were left with nothing at the end of the month. They are now getting divorced and find themselves in a very bad financial position, which was actually created by themselves. The property is in fact about to be sold by auction.

In another case which I have had recently the parties were married for a similar length of time but instead of buying new motor vehicles, they had invested in two properties. Their monthly income was the same as the abovementioned case. A divorce would be a lot easier in this case than in the previous case financially, as the parties had invested their money wisely. One spouse could simply move out of the one home and into the other home.

Whilst I am not qualified as a financial advisor I personally believe on a budget. It is important to cut out as many unnecessary expenses as possible. Very often in a maintenance or divorce case when I have to analyse bank statements, it amazes me how people squander money. In one particular case, I was acting on behalf of the lady in a divorce. Her husband’s bank statements revealed that he would spend up to R500 in a single night at a local pub at least four times a week. This is completely unnecessary. It amazed me though that he was not even prepared to pay R1000 maintenance for his child. The court frowned upon him when looking at the bank statements, and we obtained a good result in the end.

In my opinion when getting divorced, legitimate expenses after your nett income should firstly be the expenses of the child, such as school or crèche fees, medical expenses, food and clothing. If you are able to cover these expenses, only then should you consider buying a house, flat or property, and only if you can afford that and still have at least R1000 per month to save in an account.

In my opinion a married couple with children should where possible invest in life insurance and medical aid. Other legitimate expenses would be petrol, telephone expenses, electricity, rates or any other work related expenses.

Although it is not always easy financially when getting divorced, especially when finances are limited, it is possible to make it work financially if you use your money wisely.

This article was written by Cape Town divorce lawyer, Peter M Baker

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