Tag Archives: Court

UNOPPOSED AND OPPOSED DIVORCE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

My spouse said that he/she won’t ‘give me a divorce’. What can I do? Your spouse can oppose the divorce, but it is the Court that grants a divorce, not your spouse. If you convince the court that the marital relationship has irretrievably broken down, the court can grant a decree of divorce even if your spouse does not want to get divorced.

There is a process, called a ‘rule 58 or rule 43’ application, whereby you can ask the court to give an order regarding the care of and access to the children and maintenance pending the finalisation of the divorce. You can even ask for a contribution to your legal costs.

How much does it cost?

In the case of an unopposed divorce (i.e. there is no dispute between yourself and your spouse about the divorce or what should happen), your fees are likely to be limited to a set fee for legal costs, as well as Sheriff’s fees and minor expenses such as transport, photocopies etc. Sheriff’s fees can vary widely, depending on the distance he has to travel and how many attempts he has to make at serving pleadings on the opposing party, but generally these fees would be a few hundred rand. Where a divorce is opposed, the costs become unpredictable and entirely dependant on the specifics of the case.

How long does it take?

Where a divorce is unopposed and there are no complications or children involved, it can sometimes be finalised in as little as four weeks.

Where a divorce is opposed, it can easily take two to three years, or more. In most cases, however, divorces get settled before the parties have to go to Court – even where the divorce started out as an opposed divorce. As soon as the parties in an opposed divorce reach a settlement agreement and the divorce becomes unopposed, it can again be possible to finalise the divorce in as little as four weeks.

What you need to do

Before you approach the Court to start divorce proceedings, you will should get certified copies of as many of the following documents as you can:

  1. Your identity document
  2. Your Ante-Nuptial Agreement, if any
  3. The children’s births certificates, if any and
  4. Your marriage certificate

Also make sure you have the following information handy:

  1. Your full names, surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
  2. Your spouse’s full names, surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
  3. Date when you got married and where the marriage took place
  4. Children’s full names, surnames, identity numbers and
  5. Comprehensive details of any funds (such as pension funds, retirement annuities and provident funds) which you or your spouse belongs to.

You may institute divorce proceedings in either a High Court or Magistrates’ Court (Regional Court).

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Reference:

http://www.legal-aid.co.za/selfhelp/

GETTING CHILD CONTACT FOR DIVORCED PARENTS

Contact refers to maintaining a personal relationship with a child. It entitles a person to see, spend time with (visit or be visited) or communicate (through post, by telephone or any form of electronic communication) with a child who does not live with that person. The child’s parent/s or a person other than the child’s parent/s (such as grandparent) can obtain the right to contact a child, provided that the contact would serve in the child’s best interests.

What will the court consider when granting an order in respect of contact?

  1. The best interests of the child.
  2. The nature of the personal relationship between the child and his/her parent/s.
  3. The degree of commitment the parent/s has shown towards the child.
  4. The extent to which the parent/s has contributed towards the expenses in connection with the birth and maintenance of the child.
  5. The likely effect on the child of any change in the child’s circumstances, including the effect of being separated from the parent/s or brothers/sisters with whom the child has been living.
  6. Any family violence involving the child or a family member of the child.
  7. The need to protect the child from any physical or psychological harm that may be caused by subjecting or exposing the child to maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, violence or harmful behaviour.
  8. The child’s age, maturity, stage of development, gender, background and relevant characteristics of the child.
  9. Any disability that a child may have and any chronic illness from which a child may suffer from.

A parenting plan will contain a clause setting out the reasonable contact that the parent of alternate residence shall have with the child during term time and school holidays, taking into account the child’s social, school and extra-mural activities.

​There are an infinite number of possibilities available when drawing up a parenting plan. Jobs, schools and a variety of other factors must still be taken into account. The bottom line is to find a plan that works for the whole family.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

References:

https://www.legalwise.co.za/help-yourself/quicklaw-guides/child-contact/

http://www.divorcelaws.co.za/the-non-custodian-parent-and-contact.html

YOUR DUTY TO DISCLOSE EVEN IF YOU DO NOT CLAIM FROM YOUR INSURER

A4BInsurance to most people is a grudge purchase. We buy insurance and pay our monthly premiums and then forget about it until we want to claim. We are sold policies where, if we do not claim, we get a later benefit. Ever wonder about losses that you suffer and do not claim for and what effect it has on your policy?

In the recent unreported judgment in Sherwin Jerrier v Outsurance Insurance Company Limited the Pietermaritzburg High Court was faced with such a question. Mr Jerrier claimed for damages to his car caused by an accident that he was involved in on 8 January 2010.

The insured (Mr Jerrier) took out a policy in December 2008. He did not report a loss that he suffered in April 2009, after inception of his policy, to his insurer. The damage to his vehicle amounted to over R200 000 and the incident attracted further third party liability.

The specific policy as most, if not all policies do, provided that “you need to inform us immediately of any changes to your circumstances that may influence whether we give you cover, the conditions of cover or premium we charge. This includes incidents for which you do not want to claim but which may result in a claim in the future.”

As with most of our household policies, these are monthly policies, and we continuously need to make disclosure to the insurer of things such as losses or damage, moving to a new house, et cetera. The court in this instance found that the reasonable man would have concluded that the previous losses would, from a claims history perspective and also from a moral risk perspective, be indicative of a change in his circumstances. The Court found that the insurer was correct in not accepting liability for the loss suffered in January 2010.

In short, even if you do not claim, let your insurer rather know of a loss or a potential claim. Anything that may be deemed to influence the risk or would indicate a change in circumstances, such as moving to a new property, needs to be disclosed to the insurer. It is not unreasonable to expect this of the insured.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

BUSINESS RESCUE PROCEEDINGS – PROBLEMS, HEADACHES AND ANOMALIES

The 2008 Companies Act has been criticised, in many respects and in many quarters.  A great many of the provisions found therein are difficult to understand, and some of them are downright bizarre.

Take, for example, the business rescue dispensation created by Chapter 6 of the 2008 Companies Act.  Business rescue is, of course, a well-intentioned and potentially promising alternative to the liquidation of companies.  The liquidation process results in the destruction of the company, loss of jobs, the sale of assets frequently at a fraction of their market value.  It is a lose-lose situation.  The underlying aim of business rescue is to provide an alternative mechanism by which the company can be restored to commercial viability, which should ultimately better serve the interests of creditors, employees and other stakeholders.

To achieve this, Chapter 6 of the Companies Act provides that a company may be placed in business rescue by resolution of its board of directors, or by order of court.  A business rescue practitioner (hereinafter referred to as “the BRP”) is appointed, who has wide-ranging powers of investigation and control and who, ultimately, prepares a business rescue plan.  That plan is required, by Section 150 of the 2008 Companies Act, to list the assets and liabilities of the company, probable dividend if the company was to be liquidated, a list of shareholders, and business plan proposals which set out the steps to be taken to restore the company to the position where it can continue trading or (if that cannot be achieved) to wind up the affairs of the company in such a manner that creditors will receive a more favourable dividend than would have become payable, on liquidation.

In the course of the business rescue investigation, however, the BRP is vested with various powers which are, to say the least, perplexing.  One of these is found in Section 136(2)(a) which empowers the BRP to either partially or conditionally suspend, for the duration of the business rescue proceedings, any obligation of the company under business rescue (hereinafter referred to as “the BR company”) that arises under an agreement to which the BR company was a party, prior to the commencement of the business rescue proceedings, and which would otherwise become due during those proceedings.

The question is – how does that draconian power fit in with the well-known contractual principle of reciprocity?  Reciprocity means that, if two parties conclude a contract in which both of them have rights and obligations, Party A cannot enforce any of its rights without, at the same time, tendering to comply with its obligations.

So where does Section 136(2)(a) leave a creditor who concluded a contract with a BR company, prior to commencement of business rescue, under which both parties have outstanding rights and obligations?  Is the BRP able to suspend, for the duration of the business rescue proceedings, the obligations of the BR company but, at the same time, require the creditor to carry out the creditor’s obligations, without receiving any counter-performance from the BR company?

Take, for example, a distributorship agreement under which the manufacturer of products has, prior to BRP, appointed the BR company as a sole distributor in South Africa, on condition that the BR company markets and advertises the product in question, thereby ensuring that it acquires a reputation and market share.  May the BRP simply suspend those marketing and advertising obligations, but still insist that the BR company carry on acting as exclusive distributor?  Can the BRP of a franchise company under business rescue decide to suspend the obligation to pay royalties to the franchisor, but insist that the franchisee nevertheless be entitled to carry on the franchise operation?  Many other examples will illustrate why, in a commercial setting, it would be grossly unfair to expect a party to continue performing under a contract, although the obligations of the other party are suspended.

The courts have to thus far not had occasion to pronounce upon the meaning and effect of Section 136(2)(a), or how it will impact on contracts which create reciprocal obligations.  All that one can safely say is that, in the meantime, creditors with ongoing contractual obligations with companies in business rescue are left in a state of uncertainty and vulnerability, and exposed to a mechanism which is certainly open to abuse and exploitation by companies who have been placed in business rescue.

Clarification from the courts, or an amendment to Section 136 of the 2008 Companies Act, is urgently required.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

DON’T SPEED THROUGH LIFE

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Jack Louw was used to driving fast cars – he was practically born with one foot on the accelerator. Jack was also born into a very rich family, which meant there was always money to pay for the fines he kept receiving for exceeding the speed limit. However, Jack’s luck would soon change and he might end up with more than a fine.

According to the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and the Regulations published on 17 March 2000, the general speed limits are: 60 km/h on a public road within an urban area; 100 km/h on a public road outside an urban area which is not a freeway, and 120 km/h on every freeway.

Prosecution or the imposition of a spot fine is automatic if you are caught exceeding the 60km/h and general speed limits. However, if you speed in a 60km/h zone, and it is greater than 100km/h, you will not have the option of paying an admission-of-guilt fine, but will have to appear in court to answer a charge of reckless or dangerous driving and contravention of the Act.

Depending on the seriousness of the offence, you may or may not be given the alternative of an admission-of-guilt fine as opposed to having to appear in Court. An admission-of-guilt fine is a fine that a person is issued with after admitting guilt. It may seem like an easy exit to all problems. However, once admitting guilt, the person will have a criminal record.

Admission-of-guilt fines for speeding are calculated on the basis of rands per km/h in excess of the speed limit. These fines may be paid at any office of the South African Police Service in the Magisterial district where the offence occurred, by the date stipulated on the notice that will be posted to you within two weeks after you received the ticket. You must produce the ticket when paying the fine.

Should you choose not to pay the admission-of-guilt fine, but rather state your case in court, you should check the fine to ascertain the date on which you must appear in Court and the case number. Queries about the fine must be directed to the clerk of the criminal court of the Magisterial district of issue, and the actual document must accompany your query.

It is important to take notice of the speed you are driving. It may be important for you to get to your destination in time, but is it worth paying a fine, or having a criminal record? It is also important to remember that if you get a fine in a town other than your home town, you will have to travel back to that town to appear in court.

Think before admitting guilt to a speeding offence, or even better, think twice before committing an offence that would put you in that position.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.