Divorce cases can be straightforward or riddled with issues. Not legal issues, but emotional issues, especially when there are children involved. What about the proprietary aspects? Well, that is the easy bit. If parties are married in community of property, there should not be much to argue about. The law is the law. Each party should get what the law says they are entitled to – in this case, an equal division of the joint estate. Read here to find out how to attend to your own unopposed divorce.
In our view, the simplest divorce would be when the couple was married with an ante-nuptial contract, which excluded community of property and the accrual regime in a case where there are no minor children born from the marriage. In such a case, all that is required is a decree of divorce. However, if there are minor children involved, then the parties may be at loggerheads as to who should have custody, or how visitation should be exercised. Then there is the issue of child maintenance, which can be a tedious and complicated matter to resolve.
In this article, advice is provided on how to win your divorce case. This is done by focusing on what is necessary, fair, and what you are entitled to. Many people focus too much on emotions and irrelevant matter. This is where the wisdom of experts comes into play. What follows are some of the tips and tricks provided by Advocate Muhammad Abduroaf, a family law expert with more than a decade of experience on family law, divorce, child custody and child maintenance matters. Read on to find out some tips and tricks of the trade. Valuable advice is given on what to do through the divorce court process.
Let say a couple was married for 10 years – they married in community of property. In other words, they share in everything. There are 2 children born from the marriage. They live in a home that is bonded but purchased by the wife before the marriage. The bond is only registered in her name and gets deducted from her personal banking account. The father, however, does not work but attends to the household, which includes cleaning, taking the kids to school, making food etc. When the children are ill, the father would be the one who stays up caring for them. School projects and homework is also attended to by the father. The father does some web designing work for income, but his income is minimal compared to that of his wife. The best would be to enter into a parenting plan.
Now in a case of divorce, the wife would find it unfair that the husband should have half the value of the home. This is so as she is the one who purchased it before the marriage and paid up all the monthly instalments. Our advice to the mother would be not to waste her time on this issue. The parties were married in community of property, forming one joint estate. If she came into the marriage with the property, then it forms part of the joint estate. The same advice goes to the husband. All that he needs to do is stick to what the law says he is entitled to. The judge would agree with him.
Then there is the issue of custody. The mother believes that she is entitled to be the primary caregiver because she gave birth to the children. She also believes that all mothers should have custody over minor children no matter what the circumstances. Apparently, someone told her that. However, the reality of the matter is that the father, in this case, cared for the minor children for most of their lives. It would further be in their best interests if he continues to do so. He knows their routine, needs and how to care for them better than the mother. And besides that, the mother is a career woman, who works long, hard hours. She does not have the time, patience or skills to care for the minor children, as efficiently as the father has. The same principles may apply in matters of relocation.
Now, what advice do we have for parents where there is a dispute regarding the amount of Child Maintenance to Claim? Have a look at this article on Tricks and tips on how to win your child maintenance case. Similar principles can be applied to child maintenance issues in a divorce court, whether in the High Court, or Regional Court. With regard to the scenario above, the father would be the one claiming child maintenance from the mother. Unless he is successful in claiming personal maintenance (or alimony) from the mother, he would have to get a job, or earn more in his web designing business and support himself and contribute towards the expenses of the minor children.
The sad reality of a divorce for most people is that their standard of living drops post-divorce. This is so as there are now two households that need to be maintained. When the couple lived together there was only one bond or rental amount to pay, one municipal bill, and the entire family used the family car. Now it has doubled placing a strain on the resources the parents have. Therefore, one needs to be practical as to what amount of maintenance one claims under these situations. The belt needs to be tightened when it comes to non-essentials. However, the parents must try their utmost to ensure that the minor children’s standard of education does not drop.
This aspect is one of the trickiest aspects regarding a divorce matter. Have a look at this article on How to win your child custody and access court case – Tips and Tricks. Here as well, similar principles can be applied to child custody issues in a divorce court. With regard to the scenario above, it would make sense that the father is awarded custody over the minor children and the mother reasonable contact. Her contact rights should accommodate her busy work schedule. That may either be every second weekend, every second day after school or once a month. It all depends on the facts of the case.
No parent should be punished for their work schedule. If the mother in the future gets more time off work, then provision should be made for that. In the same manner, should the father be gainfully employed in the future, then the mother would also need to come to the park and make more time for the children.
If the parties are in battle regarding who should get custody of the minor children, then focus should be centred as to what is in the minor children’s best interests. The focus should be as to who can actually care better for the children in substance, and not in theory. Many parents say they can care better, or will care better than the other parent, but have nothing to back up such bold allegations. No one is perfect, but if you demonstrated that you cared well for your child in the past, it may be best to leave things the way they are.
The focus should not be on badmouthing or finding faults in the other parent. You will annoy the court and your lawyer. Nonetheless, it won’t assist you in any way. If you truly care for your children, put personal issues aside, and put your children first. Even if the reason for the divorce is domestic violence, a level head should still be maintained.
The advice in this article is not intended to trick the courts into finding in your favour. In our view, winning is getting what you are entitled to. To state it differently, losing would be not getting what is fair. So even if you paid for everything in the joint estate, and leave with half, that is still winning. Many people ask for the impossible in the divorce summons and do not receive it. This is either due to bad legal advice, or a case based on unsound judgment. Losing would be leaving with less than half if there was no legal basis for it. But if you feel that you want to give your spouse more than half, then do so.
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If you find any of our articles, free resources and posts interesting, or possibly useful to others, please like and share it on Social Media by clicking on the icons below. Should you require any other legal services and advice, not related to family law, visit Private Legal. Or click here for the details of Cape Town Advocate, Muhammad Abduroaf. Visit our child custody and maintenance site for additional information.