Man married in community of property loses court bid to stop wife from getting half his pension

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A man who told the court that his soon-to-be ex-wife was not entitled to a part of his pension fund due to a gambling habit has been ordered to give her half of their joint estate.
A man who told the court that his soon-to-be ex-wife was not entitled to a part of his pension fund due to a gambling habit has been ordered to give her half of their joint estate.
Sharon Seretlo
  • A man claimed during divorce proceedings that his wife should not get a part of his pension fund because she had a gambling addiction.
  • His pension fund currently totals R3.5 million.
  • The court has ordered that they share the joint estate equally.

A man who told the court that his soon-to-be ex-wife was not entitled to a part of his pension fund after divorce due to a gambling habit has been ordered to give her half of their joint estate.

The couple, who were married in community of property in 2000, both agreed that their marriage had broken down and they should get divorced.

When the case was heard in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, the husband said despite being married in community of property, he didn't want to share his estate with his wife because she had a gambling addiction.

He, however, could only tell the court of two times in 19 years when she gambled. She also admitted to gambling for entertainment while on holiday. The man had given her money to gamble, she told the court.

The man said the gambling led to the breakdown of their marriage. He said she "failed to take care of the children" and he "had to do his own washing and cooking".

READ | Landmark judgment provides hope for spouses left with nothing after divorce

He also accused the wife of withdrawing intimate relations and of "the tendency to leave the matrimonial home once a month on a Friday morning and return on Monday morning. This practice occurred around the 25th of each month when she got paid her salary".

But the woman gave the courts a different version of events. She said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Once she got sick, she said, the man stopped giving her attention and started sleeping outside the home.

The judgment by acting Judge Rochelle Francis-Subbiah read:

He showed no compassion and concern for her. She was surprised that he failed to support her during her severe illness despite her supporting him during his arrest when he was charged with theft.

The man claimed he was unaware of the cancer diagnosis despite the wife being a beneficiary on his medical aid.

In 2006, the woman opened a criminal case against him, claiming he kicked her arm, resulting in it being broken below the elbow. She said he assaulted her after accusing her of cheating. The case was withdrawn on the advice of the man's father.

In 2019, the woman sought a domestic violence court order due to her husband swearing, passing remarks and making death threats to her. When the order was issued, the man moved in with his parents. He never returned to the matrimonial home.

The court heard that the man owned immovable property when their marriage began.

"Later, due to a child maintenance claim against [the husband] from his former partner, the couple decided to have the immovable property registered in the name of [the husband] to reduce his maintenance payments. This entailed the [husband] obtaining a mortgage bond in the amount of R110 000, and as he qualified for an employer's housing subsidy the immovable property had to be registered in his name.

"The mortgage bond held in the name of the [wife] was settled by the bond taken by the [husband] and as a result the amount of R43 000 was deposited into the [wife's] account for the 'sale' of the property."

READ | Man loses bid for protection order against wife's 'verbally abusive, vulgar' texts

The bond will be paid off in August 2023, and a balance of R12 000 is outstanding. The house is currently valued at R291 000.

The man now claims the woman made no contribution to the house, including maintenance. He said he didn't know what she did with her salary, adding that he bought the groceries for the family and remained the main breadwinner.

She, however, said she had to supplement his groceries because they were never enough. She also had to supplement the house expenses by selling bags and toilet paper.

Pension

The man's pension is valued at R3.5 million, which he does not want to share with the woman. He claimed that when she left two jobs and received a pension payout, he didn't receive a cent from her.

The woman said this was untrue. She had, in fact, bought a BMW and other cars. She also told the court she paid school fees for the children for the whole year. This included the man's child from a previous relationship.

"She purchased clothes for all members of the family, paid off the [husband's] debts, tiled the house, repainted the exterior walls of the house, and bought a gas stove. In summary, she used the money for the benefit of the joint estate."

Francis-Subbiah granted the couple a divorce decree and ruled that they were both entitled to 50% of each other's pension funds.


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