From the legal cost of divorce proceedings, the eventual division of assets and spousal support or maintenance costs post-divorce, financial burdens may be the reason many delay divorce even in the face of an unhappy or even abusive marriage.
According to data by DIYorce.co.za, a local service for couples seeking consensual divorces, a lack of respect was identified as one of the most popular reasons for divorce.
“Many responses included specific issues with a partner, including adultery and substance abuse (either excessive drinking or drugs)”.
Temporary financial relief
However, Shani van Niekerk, Senior Associate at Adams & Adams, says that financial difficulties should not be a hindrance for people hoping to leave an unhappy marriage given the financial relief provided by Rule 43 of the High Court.
Providing temporary financial relief, a Rule 43 application can be made at any time once a divorce summons has been served; van Niekerk advises, adding that a Rule 43 application is non-gender specific.
According to van Niekerk, a Rule 43 application provides temporary financial assistance when related to one of the categories listed below:
1. Maintenance for a spouse and/or minor child pending the outcome of the divorce proceedings.
2. A contribution towards the legal fees of the divorce;
3. Interim residency and care of any minor child; and
4. Interim contact with any minor child.
“Unlike many court proceedings, a Rule 43 application affords an applicant speedy and expeditious relief. Applications can be finalised within a few months as opposed to standard applications, which can take months, or even years, to be concluded,” van Niekerk notes.
‘A bird’s eye view’
Financial planner Kim Potgieter says it isn’t uncommon to find that during divorce proceedings, one spouse has no idea about the financial assets accumulated during their marriage.
“Unfortunately, I often meet women clients going through a divorce who have abdicated the financial responsibility during the marriage. They were not involved at all and depended on their husbands to manage their money,” Potgieter says.
A recipe for disaster which leads to an unfair divorce settlement, Potgieter says.
Van Niekerk says this does not have to be the case, adding that “the days of not knowing what one’s spouse earns or owns is long gone” and that here again, Rule 43 applications come in handy.
Rule 43 applications necessitate the filing of a Financial Disclosure Form (FDF), a document that legally requires both spouses to declare their assets.
“In terms of the latest practice directives of the Pretoria and Johannesburg High Courts, both parties are required to file a completed FDF under oath, together with supporting documentation, prior to the hearing of the Rule 43 application. The implementation of FDFs in Rule 43 applications now affords both parties, and indeed the court, a bird’s eye view of the exact current financial status of both spouses”.