A woman getting divorced want her husband to be fined for not paying fully for their dogs. Picture: File
A woman getting divorced wants her husband to be fined for not paying fully for their dogs. Picture: File

Reprinted from the Pretoria News, by Zelda Venter – 2020-10-08

Pretoria – A divorcing woman asked that her estranged husband be fined R20,000 for contempt of court because, among other things, he did not fully pay for their dogs Ollie and Sadie’s needs.

The woman, whom the court remarked “in some respects seems to have been unattractively intent on extracting more than her pound of flesh”, cannot be named because a bitter divorce is looming.

She complained because he failed to pay fully for the R1500 dog food, and on occasions did not pay the R1000 a month dog walkers’ bill.

Apart from this, she said, Ollie was not well and was on monthly medication, which she expected her husband to pay fully. This is apart from the monthly vet bills and the pet care toiletries.

The Western Cape High Court earlier ruled that pending the divorce, the husband had to pay R1500 towards the dogs. But the dispute now arose whether this amount was only for the dog food or whether it included his entire liability towards the dogs’ costs.

In her latest contempt application for him not honouring his financial obligations, the wife said she actually wanted him to pay R5600 a month in respect of the dogs.

This amount is made up as R1500 for food, R2500 for medical costs, R1000 for a dog walker, and R600 for pet care/toiletries.

Additionally, she sought an order that the husband be liable to pay “all out-of-pocket veterinary charges, as well as medical, dental and related costs and charges” not covered by the above amounts.

All of this was over and above her claim for monthly cash maintenance for herself.

A court earlier ruled that she must receive a cash payment of R10000 for herself.

A long list of additional costs which he had to pay was also stipulated. This included all the maintenance costs of the Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle she was driving.

Apart from this, the husband also had to pay a set amount for the maintenance of the pool.

The wife now complained that “maintenance” was one thing and chemicals for the pool another. She said maintenance did not include chemicals, of which the pool needed a lot.

The husband, on the other hand, said while he at first agreed to pay the dog walker, he was now tired of this expense, as his wife could very well walk them by herself. If she did not want to, she had two domestic workers for which he paid, who could step in.

He further said he did earlier agree to pay R1105 for dog food and R704 for Ollie’s medication. Thus, he offered more than R1800 a month for dog food and medication.

While he was still willing to pay for Ollie’s medication, the husband said the Covid-19 pandemic had set back his business economically and he was not able to honour all the promises he had made during a maintenance hearing before the pandemic.

He did not express an unwillingness to meet the dogs’ reasonable veterinary and medical costs, but he had put his foot down on paying for expensive tick and flea remedies.

He meanwhile questioned why the dogs in any event had to eat such expensive dog food, as he fed them pellets while he was still at home, which cost little more than R500 a month.

According to the wife, they had changed to their current brand four years previously, and the cost of that dog food was R1499 a month, a cost which the husband had continued to bear for a while after they separated, but then stopped.

Judge OL Rogers said while he was inclined to agree that a dog-walking service was a luxury, the husband during the maintenance hearing agreed to pay for this and that order was still in place.

While it may be so that his finances were not as before, the husband did not prove that he was unable to pay the stipulated amounts.

The judge ordered that where he was in arrears he had to pay up or face a R20000 contempt fine.

Links added by SD Law.

Don’t let your marriage go to the dogs!

A UK survey of 2000 people and more than 100 family lawyers revealed that the average divorce case uses 25 hours of lawyers’ time to decide the fate of a pet. We would be very surprised if the same is true here, generally speaking, but there’s no doubt that much-loved family pets are a cause for dispute in marital break-ups. If you have queries about the custody of your pet, or the division of any other assets, contact Simon on 086 099 5146 or email sdippenaar@sdlaw.co.za. We’ll help you resolve the sharing of pets!

Further reading:

Rise of the Pet-nup: I’m taking the dog!