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Interference by family & divorce

It amazes me how many clients consult me and explain to me that the reason for the breakdown in the marriage is the interference by an in-law or other family member. The interference is so bad that the parties are left with no option but to end their marriage.

In one of my more recent matters I was consulted by a man to represent him in the divorce. During the course of the divorce his wife explained to me that her husband, my client, had ten years earlier at a party killed her very own brother during a fight, and that she simply could not forgive him for this, even though she had often tried to forgive him.

In the abovementioned case the fight had broken out after years of arguing between my client, the male, and his brother-in-law. There had been alcohol involved, and my client had apparently been given a community service sentence, as he could not remember what had happened at the time of the fight and was acting in self-defence. His children saw what happened which made everything worse.

Some married couples see more of their family than other married couples. Some couples who have young children and not much money are forced to call on their parents or in-laws for assistance with the children. Whilst it is most helpful to have family to fall back on this could turn out into a problem later as the more the grandparents or aunts & uncles see of the children the more they will feel they have a say in your and your children's lives.

When there is a problem in a marriage a person will normally confide in direct family members. The other spouse very often gets jealous of that person siding with their husband or wife. It is just a natural instinct in life as a person to side with your biological child rather than an in-law. I have never actually in my legal career ever heard of a parent siding with their biological child's spouse in a divorce matter.

Problems very often arise in a marriage where one spouse spends too much time with his or her direct family. A female client of mine once told me how her husband spent way too much time with his mother and she was sick and tired of living with a “mommy's boy”.

In another one of my cases my client, the man, advised me how his wife continuously went to visit her mother, who was divorced. She even on occasion slept over at her mother's house, who only lived twenty minutes away from them. He advised me that he could not carry on the relationship with someone who always wanted to be with her mother.

I believe that for a marriage to work, couples should not spend too much time with their parents or other family members. This can create many problems. Those marriages where parents and family live in a different province or country, are quite strangely enough the most successful marriages.

article written by Cape Town divorce lawyer, Peter M Baker

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