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

Divorce and religion

Different people have different views on marriage, religion, spiritual principles and divorce. Some people don’t see anything wrong with living together without even getting married in the first place.

One of the first cases that I dealt with was quite an acrimonious divorce. I was acting for the female in that case and she had moved out of the matrimonial home with their minor son. I don’t believe the male in the case really wanted to get divorced as he wasn’t entertaining any settlement proposals which I was sending to him and was merely ignoring my calls.

On the day of the trial in the abovementioned case when we stepped into the judge’s chambers for the pre-trial conference to discuss the case the judge asked the male what he wanted out of the divorce. He said that he did not want a divorce in the first place, as according to his religious beliefs he didn’t believe in divorce.

The judge in the above case rejected this argument unfortunately. She stated that if one party wants a divorce the divorce will happen if one party wants it. She furthermore stated that it is irrelevant in a court of law if one party state that he/she does not want to get divorced on the basis of religious beliefs.

I have recently been involved in another matter where my client was served with a divorce summons by her husband. She was a staunch Roman Catholic and did not really want the divorce. Her husband did though, even though he also professed to be a Catholic and even went to church on Sunday’s. They did however attend different services.

In the abovementioned case shortly after our first consultation my client contacted me to arrange a second consultation. She was visibly upset at that meeting as she really wanted to save the marriage and her husband didn’t. He was planning on moving out of the matrimonial home soon with their children.

My client in the above case sat there for quite some time at our meeting discussing religious beliefs and divorce. I had to advise her that although some churches, like the Catholic Church, do not believe in divorce, religious beliefs are unfortunately not taken into account in a court of law.

Eventually in the above case we arranged to meet with my client’s husband’s attorney and my client’s husband. They agreed to reconcile and to have a talk with their priest. I am pretty sure if we had gone to court though the religious argument would not have succeeded.

Marriage in our law is seen as a legal act, but in the eyes of a church it is seen more as a lifelong commitment before God. When parties get divorced it is however only the legal consequences of the marriage that are really relevant, and not in what church you got married or what your spiritual beliefs are, if any.

article written by Cape Town divorce lawyer, Peter M Baker

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