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Family: Judge takes 'middle road' in Rule 43 application

In Rule 43 applications, there are often many more versions a court has to consider; especially regarding children. A Pretoria News report says these were the words of Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) Acting Judge C Von Ludwig when confronted with an interim maintenance issue between two divorcing parents. The wife had inflated her monthly expenses, and her husband made offers towards her maintenance which were far below what she could survive on. The husband told the court that his soon-to-be ex-wife could make attempts to obtain a job, as he could not be solely responsible for maintaining two households.

Von Ludwig said Rule 43 applications were one of the most important but most difficult aspects of a divorce. That was because parties were usually at loggerheads and had not been able to reach amicable or mediated resolutions. A Rule 43 application meant the parties were in litigation and that usually implied scant meeting of the minds, he said. Thus, the judge added, few Rule 43 affidavits were without allegations of undesirable conduct by each party against the other, including spending, earning and concealing money. The objective truth was thus seldom before the courts.

Von Ludwig said the best the court was able to do was attempt to find a middle road that ensured the parties were able to meet their needs within a close approximation of their lifestyle, without the sole income earner having to incur excessive expenditure. The Pretoria News report says while the court came to its own figures about what the wife should be paid, the judge said that was far from what she had sought but also almost double what her husband had offered. ‘This is a result which will leave both parties unhappy but the respondent and the children must eat, get about, have toiletries and other usuals, and the home must run.’ He ordered that the husband contribute R452 000 towards his wife’s legal costs. He also had to pay her R27 150 a month maintenance and R15 000 maintenance for each child. The husband was also ordered to pay the expenses for the matrimonial home in which she is living, as well as school and other expenses related to the children.

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