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Interim Protection Order

A distraught client consulted me. He and his wife had four children together. She had applied for an interim protection order at court which had been granted and served on my client by the police.

In her application there were allegations of physical abuse, sexual violence and insults. She alleged that she had never consented to sexual intercourse with her husband. She claimed that she had been left alone at the house without much money. She was unemployed and although her husband worked, his income was under R 20 000 per month. The wife also claimed that she had been "imprisoned" and "locked up as a sexually abused woman".

In the interim protection order, an order was granted for my client not to abuse his wife in any way, i.e. neither verbally, sexually, physically, emotionally or otherwise. My client was also ordered to pay R 1 000 maintenance to the wife as "emergency monetary relief".

As is the case with interim protection orders, a return date was given for my client to appear in court to contest the application if he so wished to. If he didn't contest it, a default order would be granted in his absence if his wife attended court on the return date. If the wife decided not to attend court on the return date, the interim order would however not be final.

My client discussed with me the pros and cons regarding whether he should move out of the house or not. He denied the allegations in the interim protection order. I advised him to move out immediately.

It is my belief that if a wife obtains a protection order against her husband, she can phone the police at any point to get him locked up. He may not even necessarily have done anything wrong. I personally would never be able to live together with someone with that "sword" of a protection order hanging over my head. The "power" as it were in such a situation would be in the hands of the person who has the protection order.

Somebody who gets a protection order, goes to court and accuses their spouse of blatant lies as were the instructions from my client, clearly has no respect for you. Getting a protection order against somebody is worse than having an affair and cheating on them. It is a direct attack on their character.

My client told me he could stay with a friend free of charge for a little while. I advised him to pack his things and move out as quickly as he could. If he didn't, he could have been locked up for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
My client also wanted advice on whether he should contest the R 1 000 maintenance per month which was made a court order against him. I told him that there was no point in contesting that. His gross income was R 16 000.

The interim protection order didn't ask that my client continued paying the rent of the wife and four children. There is a clause in the court forms dealing with rent payments. I advised my client that this clause was probably omitted by mistake and that he should just continue paying the rent plus the R 1 000 per month maintenance.

If my client did not make these payments, his wife would then take him to the maintenance court to get him to pay. That would mean additional legal expenses.

From experience, once a protection order has been applied for (or an interim one), it signals the end of the relationship or marriage. It is then time to walk out and move on. If you don't do this you may be incarcerated for something you never did.

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

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