Getting divorced in South Africa is more expensive than you think

Getting divorced in South Africa is more expensive than you think

South Africa has quite a high rate of divorce. According to Stats SA, four out of ten marriages end in divorce before their tenth anniversary. The truth is, nobody wants their story to end in a separation, but sometimes you have no other choice., a website established by Family Law and Divorce Lawyer Bertus Preller at Maurice Philips Wisenberg in Cape Town and author of the book Everyone’s Guide To Divorce and Separation, published data about divorce in South Africa. According to the website, the divorce rate declined from 2017 to 2018 but despite this, the numbers remain high.

Data based on 25 284 divorce forms obtained by Stats SA showed a decline of 0.4% (from 25 390 in 2017 to 25 284 in 2018). Most divorce proceedings are started by women.

“The 2018 data reveal that more wives than husbands, 13 218 (52,3%) women in comparison to 8 791 (34,8%) men started divorce proceedings and 1 523 (6,0%) divorces were started by both husband and wife,” they said on the website.

Additionally, Business Tech reported that since the beginning of lockdown, divorce in the country has increased by 20%.

With such high divorce rates, one begins to wonder how much divorce actually costs. The total cost depends on the complexity of the settlement, with issues which may include division of assets or child maintenance.

According to Parent24, in the case that a couple collaborates to finalise all of these complexities and reach an agreement, the divorce can have a total cost coming to R7000 to R10 000. If the divorce is contested, however, it will be much more expensive.

When both individuals do not agree on the terms, they incur additional costs by going back and forth and keeping lawyers for longer, and having to go to court.

Attorneys charge big money for their services. Some who are well-experienced charge between R2000 and R3000 an hour. So, by increasing the time you spend with them, you increase your fees tremendously.

One might think that doing it yourself is the best option in an effort to save money. However, Lee Hancox, head of channel and segment marketing at Sanlam told Business Tech that it may cause more trouble.

“Sometimes there’s the temptation to rush into a ‘quickie’ DIY divorce that seems cheaper and faster – perhaps you want to get out of the emotionally stressful scenario as fast as possible,” she said. “This can be risky. Particularly if you’re not a legal expert, what you may be putting into your divorce agreement could be called into question when you get into a divorce court, or, worst-case scenario, could be to your detriment in the long run. ”

The result of this could cost you more in the end, so it may be better to stick with a professional.

If you’re wondering what else may increase your spending during or after divorce, here are some expenses that result from separation:

– Two households instead of one,

– Additional child care expenses,

– Separating contracts like medical aid, cell phone contracts, insurance, bond payments and others.

David Thomson, senior legal adviser at Sanlam Trust told Business Tech that professional help to guide you in the process makes a huge difference.

“You have to consider the impact of divorce on the whole financial picture. In a partnership, one person may have taken responsibility for the finances, so following a divorce, sudden financial independence could be daunting for the other partner,” he explained.

“Additionally, divorce might mean that one has to go back to work. Plus, it has potentially big consequences if there are children involved as arrangements must be made regarding payment of school fees; medical aid and the like.”

“Divorce is complicated, no matter who you are and how wealthy you may be.”

Image: Unsplash

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