A divorce can be an extremely difficult process for any couple or family. Regardless of whether children are involved or not there are legal, financial and emotional issues to be dealt with. There can be so many repercussions of divorce and there are many consequences that you may not be aware of or may have underestimated, so this is why you need to tackle three essential criteria.
We have broken these up into the ABC of handling the big D and they are Astute Advice from an Attorney, Benefitting financially from the break-up and Consulting with someone who can help you to work through emotional issues.
Astute legal Advice
Divorce can be less daunting than it appears. An uncontested divorce can easily be obtained when there is give and take and if the couple can be objective and allow the attorney to assist. An easily settled divorce is less emotional, quicker and more cost-effective. For that reason, this is usually recommended.
There are two grounds for divorce in terms of South African law, the most common of which is an ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.’ This can happen for many reasons – no longer any love or respect left for each other, if either party has committed adultery and this cannot be resolved, or physical, verbal, alcohol, or drug abuse which can lead to one party no longer being able to continue with the relationship. If only one spouse can show that a marriage has irretrievably broken down, the court will always grant the divorce order.
As in this case, only one spouse needs to agree to a divorce, this is the process that is usually recommended and can be a reasonably painless one. The other less common ground for a divorce is mental illness or continuous unconsciousness of a spouse and that also has to be proven.
Where there are typically problematic areas including ongoing contact and access arrangements in respect of minor children, or the settling of matrimonial property and maintenance payments, Attorneys well versed in handling divorce matters (not necessarily named as ‘Divorce Attorneys’ ) are very aware of these and can give great assistance to resolve them amicably and expediently. This is always in the best interest of the divorcing couple and the minors involved.
Lindi Smith Attorneys handle these matters with the utmost sensitivity, so before letting your divorce turn into an ugly, messy affair, talk to them to ensure a fair but legally correct outcome for all concerned.
It is seldom that one can actually benefit from a divorce scenario, but with the help of a good Financial Advisor you can at least ensure that you don’t come out of the divorce with nothing.
Your Attorney will have already made sure your marriage contract was adhered to and this is when you may be very glad to have had an ANC contract with accrual drawn up before the marriage took place, but nevertheless, assuming there are assets to divide, this is where finances, tax, CGT, insurance and investments in the context of dividing your assets come into play. These are a couple of things, in particular, you need to look into…
Pension benefits and investments
This can be a tricky aspect of dividing finances but you may be entitled to a part of your spouse’s pension benefits. Remember that the non-member’s share is not necessarily simply 50% of the retirement fund value. As one expert puts it “if your spouse is invested in a retirement annuity, the pension interest is the total of all their contributions to the fund up to the date of divorce, plus simple interest at the prescribed rate.” If you are awarded a good percentage of a retirement fund, then it is also imperative that you get good advice on the investments that you make with the money!
Policies and property
Don’t be tempted to necessarily remove your spouse from your life and retirement policies to make your children the new beneficiaries. They cannot receive such monies until a certain age if you die prematurely so a trust may be a better alternative.
Also, don’t immediately assume that holding onto the family home is the best idea when it comes to the split. This is a fixed asset and if you are to run into trouble regarding liquidity it may be better to have opted for allowing your spouse to buy out your share of the home putting you into a much more flexible situation.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, so talk to Melissa Weber of Sovereign Wealth Solutions for all matters relating to finances in a divorce situation.
Consultation with a trauma practitioner
This is only last because it is the ‘C’’ in ABC, but it is probably the most important aspect of dealing well with a divorce, as the trauma of divorce can be devastating and leave one feeling disappointed, angry and emotionally drained.
Sadly, the anger and disappointment are often pointed inwards too and not at your spouse, one of the commonest difficulties of a long term breakup is coming to terms with whether it was in fact you who was to blame.
The reality is that as much as it takes 2 to tango it also takes 2 to tangle, so letting go of these feelings is essential. This is just one of the things accomplished by a good trauma practitioner and others include…
- ‘’My heart is shattered’’ – You work through the sadness, pain, guilt, betrayal and all the other emotions suffered by a broken heart. This is not an easy time and you owe it to yourself to grieve and look inside yourself for answers. Sometimes forgiving yourself is the most healing thing of all, even for just allowing yourself to be used or abused.
- Navigating your freedom – When marrying, counsellors encourage one to let go of the freedoms you once enjoyed to take on a new life of sharing – now you work on finding ways to embrace your newfound freedom and make the most of being able to pursue what may have been denied to you within the marriage.
- Dealing with being single again – Similarly, you look at what it means to you to be single again. It is not a curse and one need only look at how many blissfully happy single people there are to see that it may be something you can look forward to and enjoy again.
- Being a single parent – We talk about the implications of this and how to avoid letting let it become a negative to your children. We discuss existing and possible new support systems and how to deal with the emotional issues that your children may be subjected to at this time.
‘’So what now?’’ – This, above all, is what Marléne Nunes can assist you to turn from a cry for help to a solid plan to give you a new life of meaning and purpose.
Seek professional help
It may not be as simple as ABC, but the big D also can be entirely manageable with good advice and guidance. These professional service providers, with their hearts very much in the right place, can take you up and beyond the despair and trauma into a new beginning filled with excitement and hope for a better future.
Stay safe – and be kind to yourself!