Unemployed housewife takes ex-husband to the cleaners

Unemployed housewife takes ex-husband to the cleaners

Already asking for a whopping 96% of his monthly salary to pay for maintenance for their three children, one woman from Pretoria took her husband to court over short-paying R6,000.

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Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has left its mark on so many people around the world as businesses globally try to adapt to both the pandemic and a world in lockdown.

Retrenchments, salary cuts, and more have become a common occurrence in the workplace and, as a result, have impacted the financial lives of millions around the world.

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A Pretoria-based father of three was taken to court by his ex-wife, who refused to take into account the financial strain the pandemic has left on him, after he short-paid one month’s maintenance because of a salary reduction he took as a result of the pandemic.

Despite this, his ex-wife took him to court for failing to pay R6,000 of his total maintenance obligation of R27,835, which was due to her in May last year - when the country was sitting in level five of lockdown. He paid the balance the following month when he received COVID-19 relief funds.

According to the court, the ex-wife wanted the money that was owed to her. Not only that, she shockingly also requested the court to imprison her husband for failing to pay that month. However, the ex-wife agreed that the prison sentence could be suspended, but that she would revisit this should he fail to pay the full amount again in the future.

The court confirms that the woman launched contempt proceedings because of this short-payment 18 days after the man paid the initial amount. The man, an architect, claimed that he was unable to pay the full amount because his salary had been reduced by his employer as a result of the pandemic.

According to the man’s legal team, the applicant was informed that there would be a shortfall in payment because of the salary reduction and that every effort was being made to recoup the missing funds as soon as possible.

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During the legal proceeding, the wife’s application was turned down and she was subsequently ordered to pay her ex-husband’s legal fees in defending the application which she had launched.

Shockingly, acting Judge J Gilbert discovered the applicant expected the respondent to pay her R27,925 of his net salary of R29,110 – a staggering 96% of his total monthly salary with just an amount of R1,185 remaining in his pocket.

When questioned about this, the man admitted that he had moved back with his parents and was trying to earn as much money as he could to ensure his ex-wife receives the maintenance amount, while also having some money so that he is able to live as well. However, the ex-wife claims that she is entitled to the amount and that he simply had to reduce his expenses.

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As the court case proceeded, the judge admitted that it was difficult to see how the man could tighten his belt under these circumstances and that, instead of paying for lawyers to defend himself in court, the man could have used that money to pay her what is owed. He added that the man risked being imprisoned for contempt if he did not get lawyers involved. The judge also suggested that she relook at the maintenance agreement and give her ex-husband a break.

Judge Bert Bam, who earlier made the maintenance order in favour of the wife and children, previously said that the wife has already placed some ridiculous and unreasonable demands on her ex-husband and that she should, herself, tone down her expenses, as well as find a job to bring in some more income. Following this, Judge Gilbert agreed and suggested that the woman take the court up on this advice.

Main image courtesy of iStock

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