Pretoria - Divorce is one of the toughest and most stressful things you can do and too many women simply give in and go along for the sake of peace.
They’d rather give up some of what is due to them to avoid horrible confrontations.
Some things to think about:
Do you know everything there is to know about your husband’s financial affairs?
Many women don’t.
It’s common for a man to take responsibility for financial issues - especially if he is the breadwinner or if he earns a significant amount more than his wife.
Some women don’t even know exactly what their husbands earn.
If divorce is in the air, he may even take steps to hide some of his assets.
Even in healthy marriages, this lack of transparency is not wise: What would happen if your husband died?
Not knowing as much as you can about the family finances would make handling the estate much harder.
If divorce is on the cards, no matter how distantly, try to find out as much as you can about financial matters.
Make copies of your husband’s bank and credit card statements where possible.
If you can, also copy his insurance policies and any info you can access about pension or provident funds and retirement annuities or other savings.
Whether you are married in or out of community of property, you should be entitled to some of his pension.
Sit down and work out exactly how much you earn and how much you would need to live on if you were divorced.
How much does it cost to feed yourself and your children?
Do you know what the utility bills are (lights, water, rubbish removal and rates)?
What does it cost to get the kids to school daily, to pay for school uniforms and any additional costs such as extra-mural activities?
Make your budget as detailed as possible. Don’t leave anything out, even expenses that only come up once or twice a year.
If you are not earning very well, it may be a good idea to apply to the court for an interim maintenance order.
That means the husband has to pay maintenance while the divorce is underway. He can also be ordered to contribute to the legal costs.
An 'uncontested' divorce sounds good, but...
It’s nice for a divorced person to be able to say "we parted amicably”, but you do need to look ahead.
Decisions you take now will impact on you and the children for years to come.
If there’s a genuine, evident desire to work together and make the best of a sad situation, fine, but if there’s any doubt about his intentions, do consider a contested divorce.
You would need to have your own attorney for this.
In a contested divorce, your husband will be obliged by law to fully disclose all his financial affairs over a span of years and this could help you to get exactly what’s due to you.
* Add your voice to our Women's Wealth Issue and help empower others this Women's Month.
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