In a country where almost half of all marriages fail, and fewer than four in 10 unions are dissolved before their 10-year anniversary, your odds are just about even of getting married and staying that way till death do you part.
Many divorcing couples think they can go their separate ways, but they don’t consider the financial aspects. Although there are no winners in a divorce, the death of a marriage should not guarantee ruination. Personal Finance spoke to mediators, lawyers and a financial adviser about how to safeguard your and your family’s future by mitigating against some of the more damaging consequences of divorce.
As of March 9, the Rules Board for Courts of Law implemented an amendment forcing parties involved in high court lawsuits to declare whether or not they considered mediation prior to approaching the court. Attorneys are also required to confirm whether or not they advised clients to seek mediation. And before the parties are allowed to go to court, they must complete a “Form 27”, delineating the reasons why they believe the dispute cannot be solved by mediation.
Level-headedness – and skilful financial planning – are essential to the divorce process. Lee Hancox, the head of channel and segment marketing at Sanlam, warns against the temptation to rush through the process. You might want to get out of the emotionally stressful scenario as fast as possible, but it can be risky. “What you might be putting into your divorce agreement could be called into question when you get into the divorce court or it could be to your detriment in the long run,” Hancox says.
Financial advisers should be part of the process, she says, because they’re not just there to sell policies; they’re there for your entire financial journey. “I’m a strong believer in tapping into financial advisers. They have great contacts too.”
Updating your will is crucial. In terms of the Wills Act, if you don’t update your will within three months of a divorce and you die, your ex-spouse automatically inherits from your estate. “Your planner will know this and make sure it gets done,” Hancox says. “You wouldn’t want your family fighting after you die. If you die intestate, it can take months or years to wrap up your estate. It’s so important to have a proper will that is executable.”
She also advises working with your adviser to consider setting up a testamentary trust for your children to ensure the assets you’re leaving to them are appropriately managed.
Matshoza says although the divorce decree is binding on the parties, it’s not on the bank with which you have a mortgage bond. “The ex-spouse might commit to paying the bond, but the bank might not allow it.”
Debt is the elephant in the room. If you were placed under debt review during your marriage, both parties are affected, so your debtors must be notified and a new application made to the court. “We really do need to manage expectations and look at the consequences of divorce. Knowledge is power and people must be better informed. That’s not to say you shouldn’t divorce, but you should go into it with your eyes open,” Matshoza says.
Source: IOL (emphasis by SDLaw*)
*SDLAW, otherwise known as Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc., is a Cape Town law firm, of specialised divorce lawyers and divorce attorneys. We offer divorce legal services focusing on a mediation first approach. Our motto is to represent our clients with a sense of uncompromising dignity. We focus on fairness, putting the family first, while always remaining sensitive. Contact us for more at 086 099 5146 or email Simon at email@example.com.
« Astonished judge tells ‘unemployable’ wife to find a job
Want a friendly divorce? »
The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.