Lowvelder
3 minute read
11 Feb 2021
10:47 am

Covid-19 pandemic increases influx of divorce enquiries in 2021

Lowvelder

It appears that 'divorce season' is upon us, with family lawyers being 'inundated with new divorce enquiries'.

Divorce file picture. Picture: iStock

A statement by a specialised family law team of Adams & Adams said divorce season has always existed directly after festive periods, especially during the first few weeks following the December/January festive season.

However, the firm has noted that it appears as if the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the usual influx of divorce enquiries in 2021.

“The pandemic is surely not to blame for all divorces; however, the added anxiety and stress associated with the pandemic has surely “broken the camel’s back” in a remarkable number of marriages,” said Adams & Adams in the statement.

“The enquiries all start with ‘what are my rights?’ It has become quite alarming that so few people understand what all the legal jargon (accrual, maintenance, contact, residency, in community, out of community, contested, uncontested, et cetera) thrown around on social media actually means.”

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To help the public better understand the terms, the law firm put together a list of phrases used in divorce cases with which people should become familiar.

1) In community of property: The marital regime in which the parties share one estate and the parties share equally in the assets and liabilities of the joint estate. The parties are answerable for the other party’s debts.

2) Out of community of property: The marital regime in which both parties possess their own estates and the parties are not answerable in respect of the other party’s assets or liabilities.

3) Out of community of property with the inclusion of the accrual system: The marital regime in which both parties possess their own separate estates; however, the spouse with the greater estate (albeit taking into account starting values and exclusions) is liable to pay one half of the difference in the nett values of the estates to the spouse with the smaller estate.

4) Primary residence: The minor children’s primary home, previously referred to as “custody”.

5) Contact: A parent’s right to visit and spend time with a minor child, despite the minor child not living with that parent. Previously referred to as “access”.

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6) Life-long spousal maintenance: In circumstances where a spouse has always been maintained financially by a husband or wife, such a spouse may be entitled to a monthly contribution (financial assistance) towards their maintenance until date of death or remarriage.

7) Rehabilitative spousal maintenance: In circumstances where a spouse has been maintained financially by a husband or wife, but such spouse is young/possess an earning capacity, such a spouse may be entitled to a monthly contribution (financial assistance) towards their maintenance for a predetermined fixed period.

8) Child maintenance: The biological parents of a minor child are both obliged to contribute toward the maintenance (financial needs) of a child on a pro rata level in accordance with their respective incomes.

9) Uncontested/unopposed divorce: A divorce action in which the parties are able to reach a settlement agreement out of court.

10) Contested/opposed divorce: A divorce action in which the parties are unable to reach a settlement agreement.

The specialised family law team at Adams & Adams (Shani van Niekerk, senior associate, and Courtney Elson, associate) are equipped to assist with both opposed and unopposed divorces and ensure that each matter is considered on its own merits.

This article was republished from Lowvelder with permission

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