The Western Cape High Court recently heard the case of RM V AM (18177/2014) (2014) ZAWCHC (3 May 2022), where a divorcee was dealt a major blow when Judge Derek Wille dismissed her application to have her monthly maintenance increased from R71 000 to R125 000 – with no evidence of why the increase was justified. The woman further sought R56 000 to be paid to her legal counsel for each day the matter remained on trial. Legal costs would amount to R935 000 for preparation and pending divorce action.
The separated couple, who were married for five years from 2009 to 2014 out of community of property, parted ways after the woman allegedly engaged in a ‘clandestine extramarital affair with another man’. In his judgment, Wille said the woman, who instituted divorce action in November 2014, initially sought the sum of R60 000 per month. Over the past seven years, the woman did not apply for any increase in maintenance.
‘Having considered the plaintiff’s position carefully, I reject her argument that it demonstrates that any increase in interim maintenance for her and the minor children is justified. The court’s task has been made even more difficult by the following: I do not have any ‘evidence’ of the plaintiff’s budget apart from her table of her alleged expenses. While I accept that an interim budget is not necessary in every claim, it would in my view have been helpful to have some understanding of the evidential basis for the sums that she now seeks; her ‘evidence’ in terms of the actual expenses incurred by her is at best, confusing; she fails to put up any proof (at all) of the alleged loan amounts that she is repaying; the plaintiff seeks to support her brother and her mother from a portion of these now claimed increased maintenance payments; and no explanation whatsoever is advanced by the plaintiff why she waited for almost seven years to apply for this increase and why this has been done on the eve of the trial,’ said Wille.
The Judge came to the following conclusions: ‘firstly, it is settled law that an applicant for an order for increased maintenance and a contribution towards costs should clearly demonstrate the real and actual need for these contributions. Secondly, in my view, the plaintiff has failed to comply with the basic and generally understood requirements of proper and satisfactory material in support of her claims. These requirements have been achieved on many occasions without having to burden the court with voluminous applications. This court simply cannot in the circumstances, form a proper and adequate view as to whether the plaintiff does require all these additional contributions that she so freely claims.’
The following order was granted, namely: ‘that the plaintiff’s application for an increase of her maintenance is dismissed. That each party shall be liable for the costs of and incidental to this application and all remaining issues in connection with costs (if any), shall stand over for later determination at the trial’.