A branch of law that deals with all family related matters, such as divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support and alimony awards.
In order to obtain a decree of divorce, the parties but prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that there is no prospect of the restoration of a normal marriage relationship.
We are of the view that mediation should be attempted first in divorce proceedings in order to reach a settlement. This will assist to alleviate long winded, costly litigation and promotes the best interests of the children which is paramount.
Care & Contact of Minor Children
Care and Contact deals with the parental rights of parties who have primary residence and visitation (contact) rights in respect of minor children. In the past these terms were also referred to as custody and guardianship.
When there is any dispute between parents/ guardians regarding the care and contact of their minor, the Office of the Family Advocate must investigate the matter and provide the Court with a report on what is in the best interests of the minor child/ren and the Family Advocate will give recommendations to the Court in respect of same.
Any interested party may approach the High Court or Children’s Court to adjudicate on the matter.
Balancing parental rights can be challenging. Our approach is to ensure that the best interests of your child are taken care of.
In terms of the Maintenance Act 99 of 1998 you may launch a new maintenance application in respect of spousal maintenance or maintenance for your minor children. You may also apply for the reduction or increase of the maintenance if there has been a substantial change in your financial circumstances.
Once a child reaches the age of majority, being 18 years, the custodian parent can no longer apply for maintenance on behalf of the child. If the major child (above 18 years) is still financially dependent on the parent, the child may personally approach the Maintenance Court to claim maintenance from a parent/ guardian.
Victims of Domestic Violence often do not know what remedies they may have in law. One such remedy is provided for in the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 which empowers you to obtain an immediate interim interdict against your abuser.
In terms of the Act, domestic violence is defined as: physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse; intimidation; harassment; stalking; damage to property; entry into the complainant's residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence; or any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards a complainant.
In South Africa, there are three marital regimes.
1. If you get married without an antenuptial contact, your marriage will be automatically in community of property. All the assets and liabilities of both spouses that were obtained before and after the date of marriage will form part of one joint estate.
2. Antenuptial Contract Without Accrual: Both spouses will have separate estates and will not have an automatic claim to each others respective assets.
3. Antenuptial Contract With Accrual: Both spouses will have separate estates, however, in the case of death or divorce, the party with the smaller estate may share in half of the profits accrued to the other spouse during the duration of the marriage. The spouses must declare the commencement value of their estates upon the conclusion of the antenuptial contract.
NB. Your Antenuptial Contract MUST be signed prior to the date of marriage.
Please note that the above is merely a summary of the position in South African Law. For further information, kindly contact our attorneys for a consultation.