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Family Law

Family Law

Family law deals broadly with family-related issues and domestic relations including marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, adoption, surrogacy, child abuse and children's rights generally, the termination of the marriage relationship (annulment, divorce etc); custody arrangements or alimony and parental responsibility orders.

Often clients will have questions regarding, for example, child support payments, domestic abuse & domestic violence protection orders, access to their child and maintenance payments.

What do you do if your husband does not pay maintenance? Can you attach his car or his house?

Would you like a qualified Lawyer to assist you with your Family Law question today?

Most recent Family Law Articles posted

Father barred from smoking in front of children

In an unusual case, a father has been barred from smoking in front of his children. According to a Beeld report, the father brought an urgent application before the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to force his estranged wife to place their children in his care until 23 July. The couple’s eldest child has a physical disability and the father told the court that he wanted to contribute to the specialised care the child needs, but the mother was refusing to allow the children to stay with him.

ConCourt tackles women's rights in customary marriages

The Constitutional Court reserved judgment last week in a confirmation hearing on the Limpopo High Court’s decision in the matter of Ramuhovhi and Another v The President of the Republic of SA. A Fin24 report says his case concerns the validity of section 7(1) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA). Section 7(1) of the RCMA regulates the proprietary consequences of polygynous marriages entered before the Act came into force in November 2000.

Contravening the Domestic Violence Act

It is a common occurrence in our Courts when that parties separate they often require domestic violence orders against one another.  These domestic violence orders usually prohibits or permits certain actions from either party and should these provisions in the so-called interdicts be beached, the aggrieved party would of course be able to approach the local police station for the offender to be arrested. 

Customary marriage issue before top court today

The customary marriage issue is to be argued in the Constitutional Court today. The matter has been brought by Thokozani Maphumulo, the second wife of her husband, Musawenkosi, for 25 years until his death. In his will he left his entire estate to his eldest born son from his first wife. In 2015, two years after he died, she was served with an eviction notice and she became another victim of an unregulated customary marriage system, notes a News24 report.

Traditional marriage issue heads to top court

A battle over what constitutes a traditional African marriage is headed to the Constitutional Court. The break-up between former MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa and Joburg Theatre CEO Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema led to a 10-year legal fight, with Nduneni-Ngema seeking half of the multimillionaire’s estate, says a Sunday Times report.

Court intervenes in parents dispute over child's schooling

An emotional ‘tug-of-war’ between a separated couple over their child’s schooling ended when a KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) judge intervened as ‘upper guardian’ of the child, says a report in The Witness. The mother of the seven-year-old boy brought an urgent application this week to demand that the biological father sign and present all necessary documents to enrol the child in a certain primary school within 24 hours.

East London Maintenance Court bungles payments

The Department of Justice’s Maintenance Court in East London is under fire as single mothers accuse court clerks of bungling their child support payments. The Daily Dispatch says it understands that the child support money is deposited into the court’s bank account and a court clerk then transfers it to the legal guardian of the child, often the mother.

Genetic link in surrogacy imperative

At least one parent must donate sperm or eggs for a surrogacy agreement to be legal, the Constitutional Court ruled yesterday, dashing the hopes of an infertile woman who had wanted to ask a surrogate to carry a baby for her – despite being medically unable to use her own eggs or to donate sperm from a spouse or sexual partner. She is single after a split from her husband, says a TimesLIVE report. At stake during the complex legal arguments were fundamental issues involving the natural bond between a parent and child‚ as well as the child's right to know where he or she comes from.

South Africa’s three marital systems

In South Africa there are only 3 possible marital systems for couples who are getting married to chose from. They are: (i) A marriage in community of property; (ii) A marriage out of community of property; or (iii) A marriage out of community of property but with the accrual. The choice between the 3 marital systems is very important since it will govern how your assets and liabilities (debts) will be dealt with, not only between the two of you, but also between you and other people.

Judge sets precedent in family advocate case

Durban attorney Estelle de Wet has been lambasted by KZN High Court (Durban) Judge Themba Sishi for ‘completely unacceptable, obstructive conduct’ in her handling of a matter before the Family Advocate’s Office involving a father’s bid for access to his son. The Mercury reports the ruling – against which the attorney intends to appeal – sets a precedent in SA, effectively barring attorneys from being present during family advocate interviews.

High Court forces sheriff to attach maintenance

A mother – owed R175 000 in unpaid interim maintenance from her estranged husband – was forced to go to the High Court to get an order compelling the sheriff to obey a court instruction to attach money in his bank account, says a report in The Mercury. The office of the sheriff had refused for months to act on an order issued by the Regional Magistrate’s Court on 1 June this year.

Call for equal benefits for adoptive, surrogate parents

While new proposed legislation would offer 10 days of parental leave and new leave provisions for parents who adopt or have children through surrogates, gender activists argue that all parents should have the same parental leave benefits. The Mercury reports the Labour Laws Amendment Bill is with Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Labour, which is considering submissions made last month by Sonke Gender Justice jointly with the Mosaic Training, Service and Healing Centre for Women, and by Cosatu.

Divorce Maintenance: Can You Contract Out of It?

Generally, our laws hold us to the agreements we make with each other, but there are limits. A recent High Court judgment dealing with a bitterly-fought divorce dispute, illustrates. A Senior Advocate, having been through in his words a "very, very, very costly" divorce once, and having in mind no doubt the old proverb "once bitten, twice shy", decided not to be bitten again when he re-married.

R5m claim highlights legal vacuum

A woman’s maintenance claim of more than R5m against the estate of her male life partner has highlighted the unequal protection afforded in law between heterosexual and same-sex unmarried people, says a Cape Times report. The latter are protected by the Civil Union Act, but heterosexual life partners are left in the cold because Parliament has not yet enacted law in that regard.

Khoi-San take recognition issue to top court

The Khoi-San see themselves as the ‘first nation’ of SA, and in order to give their claim gravitas, the Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (Ifnasa) group has mounted a Constitutional Court claim to get the Khoi-San’s land back. ‘There has been a serious miscarriage of justice, so we need to correct that,’ said Reverend Anthony Williams, of Ifnasa, at the Constitutional Court, according to a report in The Citizen.

Judge slams police ineptitude in domestic violence cases

Western Cape High Court Judge Vincent Saldanha has highlighted the urgent need for police officers to protect victims of domestic violence. A report in The Citizen notes that he sentenced Bongani Dodo to 15 years behind bars for murdering his wife (29) and mother of their two children in 2013. Saldanha said Zuziwe Gobelo had been ‘another victim of the failure of some members of the police to properly respond to the complaints of victims of domestic violence’.

Rights groups entitled to join Muslim marriages battle

The SA Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communities are entitled to join the court battle to have the Muslim Marriages Bill made into law, says a report in The Mercury. Judge Siraj Desai yesterday ordered the Women’s Legal Centre Trust serve papers to the two bodies within 30 days informing them of his decision.

Fierce opposition in Muslim marriages case

The Women’s Legal Centre Trust is adamant it wants the Muslim Marriages Bill made into law, despite counter-arguments by respondents – President Jacob Zuma, Parliament, the Departments of Home Affairs, Justice and Correctional Services – to have the case in the Western Cape High Court dismissed, says a Cape Times report.

Women's Legal Centre wants Muslim marriages recognised

Women who leave their marriages destitute because of the government’s failure to recognise their Muslim nuptials will today ask the Western Cape High Court to rescue them, says a report in The Herald. The Women’s Legal Centre said it was litigating in the public interest because the lack of recognition of such marriages affected women and children in particular.

Lobola issue heads to SCA

After 10 years of litigation, the lobola conundrum is set to head to the SCA. Joburg City Theatres CEO Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema’s lengthy battle for half of wealthy businessman Sifiso Dabengwa’s estate was dealt yet another blow last week when the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) dismissed her application for leave to appeal, says a Sunday Times report. They would take the matter to the SCA, said Ike Motloung, Nduneni-Ngema’s lawyer.

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