'I'm afraid to lose my belongings': How to have an amicable divorce

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"We both agree, but I am afraid to lose my belongings."
"We both agree, but I am afraid to lose my belongings."

Not matter how hard couples try, sometimes marriage and relationships don't survive. Then comes the splitting up part, which includes dividing up a lifetime together.

This can be very difficult to do, and more so when one party feels they are entitled to more than they are getting.

The South African courts have this covered, but approaching a lawyer for advice is pricey, so sometimes Parent24 reaches out to find expert answers to our readers questions.

Like this father of two who wrote to say he wants to leave his wife, but is afraid he will lose everything if he does. 

Read his plea here, and some sensible advice below...

Dear Parent24,

I am a father from the Eastern Cape. I want to divorce my wife.

We both agree, but I am afraid to lose my belongings.

I have a car and I am working. I have house, but we agreed that she does not want anything from me beside supporting my two children. 

Will the court agree with our decision? 

Thank you. 

Also read: What does it cost to get divorced in South Africa?

We asked Rushka Lee Pedro, the Johannesburg based Divorce Mediator and founder of Minor Impact, to explain how this couple can get the divorce they want.  

"Firstly we need to determine 'how' they are married. The automatic marriage regime in South Africa is ICOP (in community of property) which loosely translates to 50/50 split," she explains. 

In order to get a divorce decree, one would approach the court with an 'uncontested' divorce application, with a rough draft of what they've both agreed upon.

"As per this situation," Pedro says, "he agrees to pay X amount (based on his income) per month, per child if he keeps his belongings."  

Also read: How to get a DIY divorce in South Africa

The process will take longer if anyone changes their mind during the process because it will change from an uncontested divorce to a contested divorce.

This will imply that everyone would have to declare all their assets and liabilities accordingly for the court to calculate how much of everything each party is entitled to. 

"As long as there is a fair level of understanding and integrity during the private negotiations between the two parties, before approaching the court, " she explains, " this will be seen as an amicable, uncontested divorce."  

They will need their ID's, marriage certificate and the rough draft of their agreement for the courts to set a date for them to appear in front of the magistrate to approve and issue them with a decree of divorce. 

Stuck in a similar situation? We can help!

Share your divorce-based questions and stories with us, and we could publish them. Anonymous contributions are welcome

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