Tag Archives: Spouses

AN EX-SPOUSE REFUSING TO PAY MAINTENANCE?

If a couple has gotten divorced and they have a child, then it’s the responsibility of both parents to support the child. The duty to pay maintenance cannot be avoided, regardless of either parents’ situation. If one parent refuses to pay maintenance, then the other parent can go to a court and make a claim. Being a single parent doesn’t mean being the only one to contribute to maintenance.

What should I do about it?

To deal with a spouse who refuses to pay maintenance you would first need to inform the maintenance officer. The maintenance officer can apply to the court for:

  1. A warrant of execution;
  2. An attachment order against the defaulter’s salary;
  3. An order to attach any debts; and
  4. A criminal prosecution.

Does the non-paying parent have a defence?

The only defence that a parent could have for not paying maintenance is having a lack of income. However, if the parent is unwilling to work, such as laziness, then this will not count as a defence. Failure to pay maintenance is taken very serious, guilty parents won’t get much sympathy from the court or others. If the parent is capable of working, then they will be expected to pay maintenance.

But I can’t find my ex-spouse?

Non-paying parents may think that they’re being clever by changing their address and not notifying the court. This is considered a criminal offence, and will result in punishment. Fortunately, it’s not the responsibility of the single parent to find anyone. A maintenance investigator will track down and find a non-paying parent.

How to claim maintenance

If you want someone to pay maintenance or believe that they are not paying the proper amount, then you can follow these steps at your local magistrate’s court. Remember to go the court in the district where you live.

  1. Go to the court and complete the form “Application for a maintenance order (J101)”.
  2. Also submit proof of your monthly income and expenses.
  3. A date will be set on which you and the respondent (the person whom you wish to pay maintenance) must go to the court.
  4. A maintenance officer and an investigator will investigate your claim and look into your circumstances.
  5. The court will serve a summons on the respondent.
  6. The respondent then has to either agree to pay the maintenance, or challenge the matter in court.

If found liable to pay maintenance

If the court finds someone liable for paying maintenance, it will make an order for the amount of maintenance to be paid. The court will also determine when and how the payments must be made. There are several ways the payments could be made. The court can order that the maintenance be paid at the local magistrate’s office or that the amount to be paid into the bank account chosen by the person claiming. The payments could also just be made directing to them. According to the new Maintenance Act (1998), an employer can deduct payments from an employee’s salary, if they’re liable for paying maintenance.

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).

AM I STILL LIABLE FOR MY SPOUSE’S DEBT AFTER DIVORCE?

A husband and wife buy a house together. Their marriage takes a tumble, along with their ­finances, and they have to sell their home and are left with an outstanding mortgage bond. They subsequently got divorced. The couple is concerned about what will happen to the debts and who will be ­responsible for paying them.

Who pays what after divorce?

If the couple was married in ­community of property, the debt on the property is a joint debt. They will be jointly and severally liable. This means that each partner is not just liable for half the debt now that they are divorced, in fact the bank can seek the full amount from either of them. The one spouse who is held liable by the bank would then have a claim of 50% of the debt against the other, but it would be his or her responsibility to collect that debt (not the bank’s). Alternatively, the bank may agree to accept 50% from one person and release them from the ­liability, but it does not have to.

Sometimes, the divorce settlement makes a special mention of the mortgage. But if there is no clause in the divorce, the joint liability principle applies. After a divorce, the husband and wife should present their bank with a copy of the divorce settlement. This will remove any uncertainty about ownership and liability for bond payments.

Getting divorced while under debt review

If you get divorced while you are under debt review and you have the debt review court order in place, then this will need to be rescinded and for new debt counselling applications to be started, as in order to follow on with the debt counselling process you will need to reapply, but will now need to be seen as two single applications. A new budget and new proposals will also have to be drawn up.

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:

“Debt And Divorce”. News24. N.p., 2017. Web. 12 June 2017.

“Debt Review After A Divorce Settlement – Debt Review”. Debtbusters. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.

WHEN CAN SPOUSES GET A DIVORCE?

There are only two grounds for divorce, namely the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; or mental illness or continued unconsciousness of one of the spouses.

Examples of the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as a ground for divorce include:

  1. the spouses not living together for a continuous period of one year;
  2. abuse towards the spouse or the children;
  3. adultery;
  4. habitual criminality;
  5. drunkenness or drug addiction; or
  6. loss of love and affection between the spouses.

The court’s discretion to grant a Divorce order

The court still has discretion not to grant a divorce order, and may postpone the proceedings or dismiss the claim if it appears to the court that there is a reasonable possibility that the parties may reconcile through counselling. If reconciliation is unsuccessful after a few months, the parties may proceed with the same summons. The summons will usually contain the averment that further counselling and/or treatment will not lead to any reconciliation. A court must, therefore, be satisfied that the marriage is really broken down and that there is no possibility of the continuation of a normal marriage.

What if the couple reconciles?

Where the parties reconcile and live together again after the summons was issued and served, it does not necessarily end the divorce proceedings. If, however, the reconciliation is unsuccessful after a few months, the parties may proceed with the same summons. It is extremely important to make sure that the summons is withdrawn formally if you do decide to reconcile. Withdrawal of the summons is formally affected when the plaintiff serves a document referred to as a notice of withdrawal of the summons on the defendant or his/her attorney. If this is not done, a divorce order may be obtained by default without the defendant being aware of it. If a divorce is obtained in this manner, the aggrieved party may approach the court to set aside the order.

Conclusion

Since the present law on divorce is no longer based on the principle of fault, defences like insanity or the plaintiff’s own adultery are no longer valid defences. Therefore, if a divorce is instituted on account of an irretrievable breakdown, there is in fact no defence to prevent the divorce from proceeding. But if the court finds that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, it may postpone the proceedings in order that the parties attempt reconciliation; this, however, is not a defence, but merely amounts to a postponement.

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:

Justive.gov.za
Legalwise.co.za