Divorce guide to ease the pain

By admin
27 August 2010

They were never an ordinary couple – he was a former Springbok, she a TV presenter and singer. But now that Joost van der Westhuizen and Amor Vittone’s marriage is on the rocks they’re facing the same problems as any other couple heading to the divorce courts.

Accusations are flying to and fro as they do in just about every split. Neither is talking about the latest developments. But with allegations of adultery and assets to be divided, the divorce could easily become expensive and ugly.

“When couples decide to divorce the marriage has usually broken down to such an extent almost everything can become a cause for dispute,” Cape Town divorce lawyer Peter Baker says. “And children are usually the innocent victims.”

Even though there’s no single rule for all divorces you can take steps to shorten the painful process and protect yourself.

First make sure you sign an antenuptial contract, Johannesburg divorce mediator Eloise Knoetze says. “Even though you’re in love you must think about the future and be practical.”

Carefully consider whether you want to be married in or out of community of property. As far as is known Amor and Joost are married in community of property. As a rugby player and later as a SuperSport presenter Joost’s bank account must have been fairly healthy. But it remains to be seen whether Amor will get anything out of the divorce.

The first step after you’ve decided to divorce is to see a lawyer or mediator. One party must sue the other party for a divorce. You can ask a lawyer to do this for you.

Things get complicated when one party contests the divorce. “An uncontested divorce can be finalised within a month but a contested one can drag on for 18 months to several years,” Van Vuuren warns. Both Joost and Amor’s lawyers have indicated they will do everything they can to settle.

A divorce can be granted by a high court or a divorce court. The latter is usually cheaper because an advocate doesn’t have to appear on your behalf but it tends to take longer, Baker explains. An uncontested divorce can cost R6 000 to R10 000, while a contested one costs at least R50 000.

Sadly children are always caught in the middle of a divorce. “When parents divorce the child’s entire world is ripped apart because a child’s security is a dad and mom who are together,” Truida Botha, a child psychologist of Fairlands, Johannesburg, says.

All the same it’s better for parents to divorce than raise a child in a loveless and dysfunctional marriage, she says.

Read the full article in the YOU of 2 September 2010

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