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Winning Big – Wife Awarded R 200,000 Monthly from Husband in Rule 43 Application!

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Winning Big – Wife Awarded R 200,000 Monthly from Husband in Rule 43 Application!

Rule 43 Interim Maintenance & Legal Costs in Divorce GNS v JL Case

GNS V JL: interim maintenance and contribution toward legal costs – for a financially dependent spouse pending divorce proceedings.

Winning Big – Wife Awarded R 200,000 Monthly from Husband’s Trust in Rule 43 Application!

Case name: GNS v JL

Citation: (2023/004861) [2023] ZAGPJHC 336

Court: Johannesburg High Court  

Date of judgment: 25 April 2023

Introduction to the Matter

Contested divorces can take a long time to be finalised by the Courts. These delays may cause financial frustration to parties who do not have an income and are financially dependent on their spouses.

There may also be uncertainties regarding the care of minor children during the legal proceedings.

In these circumstances, the law allows a party to divorce proceedings to approach the Court for an order of interim arrangements pending the finalisation of the divorce.

This can include an order for interim maintenance and a contribution towards legal costs. An Application for interim relief during a divorce case is referred to as a ‘Rule 43 Application’.

Overview of the Matter

This case concerns a Rule 43 Application where the Applicant sought an interim order of maintenance and a contribution towards her legal costs pending the final divorce order.

Legal Issues Raised in the Case

The legal issue, in this case, centred around what constitutes a reasonable claim for interim maintenance during divorce proceedings and in what circumstances a Court can order one party to contribute to the other party’s legal costs.

Relevance to Divorce and Family Law

 This case sets out factors that a Court will consider in granting an order for interim maintenance and contribution towards legal costs under a Rule 43 Application.

Detailed Description of the Facts Leading Up to the Case

The Applicant and Respondent have been in a relationship since 2010. The couple were married in community of property in 2017. They had no children together, but the Applicant had an adult daughter from a previous relationship who lived with them.

The Applicant has been unemployed since 2010. She and her daughter were both financially dependent on the Respondent. The Applicant was responsible for running the household, including buying groceries.

The Respondent provided all the financial resources for maintaining the household.

He covered the Applicant’s vehicle costs, insurance, cell phone expenses as well as medical aid contributions for the Applicant and her daughter.

The couple enjoyed an above-average standard of life during their marriage.

The Applicant filed for divorce from the Respondent and launched a Rule 43 Application, claiming interim maintenance for herself and a contribution towards her legal costs.

Relationship Between the Parties Involved

 The Applicant and Respondent were husband and wife.

Issues to be Determined

There were two issues to be determined by the Court:

1.     What expenses and amount must the Respondent pay to the Applicant for maintenance pending the finalisation of the divorce?

2.     Should the Respondent contribute towards the Applicant’s legal costs?

Summary of the Arguments Made by Both Parties

 The Applicant argued that the Respondent had multiple sources of income to fund the couple’s above-average lifestyle which included paid-up luxury cars, expensive holidays, and a monthly expenditure of R202 300 for household expenses.

She indicated that the Respondent paid for her monthly personal expenses in the amount of R117 200 directly or through his family trust or businesses.

The Defendant conceded that he comes from a wealthy family and that, while his parents were alive, he received large sums of money to fund his exorbitant lifestyle.

He argued that his financial position had changed drastically since his parents died. He stated that he could not afford the amount claimed by the Applicant because his siblings refused to fund his lifestyle from the joint family trust.

He stated that the amount claimed by the Applicant was malicious because she only wanted to gain access to his family’s wealth. He further reasoned that he should not be liable for the Applicant’s daughter because he did not adopt her.

Discussion of Legal Principles

The Court stated the following principles relating to Rule 43 Applications:

1.     The success of a Rule 43 Application depends on the Applicant’s reasonable needs and the Respondent’s ability to meet them.

2.     The reasonableness of an interim maintenance claim is determined by the following factors:

  • The parties’ standard of living during the marriage.
  • The ability of the Respondent to pay based on his/her needs and responsibilities.
  • The Applicant’s resourcefulness.
  • The duration of the marriage.

3.     An order for the contribution towards legal costs is to ensure that the Applicant litigates on the same scale as the Respondent and is not disadvantaged in the divorce proceedings.

4.     In making an order for a contribution towards legal costs the Court will consider the following factors:

  • The circumstances of the case.
  • The financial position of the parties.
  • The issues involved in the pending litigation.

Court’s Decision and Order

The Court made the following decision in favour of the Applicant:

  • The Respondent was ordered to pay the Applicant interim maintenance in the amount of R200 000 per month and to cover her cell phone expenses.
  • The Respondent was ordered to pay the Applicant’s attorneys an amount of R100 000 towards the Applicant’s legal costs.
  • The Respondent was directed to keep the Applicant and her daughter on his medical aid at his own expense.
  • The Court granted the Applicant continued use of her car.

Explanation Of the Reasoning Behind the Decision

With reference to the Applicant’s interim maintenance claim, the Court took the view that it was not unreasonable or exorbitant considering the couple’s standard of living, their obvious financial means, and current responsibilities.

The Court noted that the couple had been together for about 13 years and married for six years and that the Applicant and her daughter were dependent on the Respondent.

Regarding the Applicant’s claim for legal costs, the Court said that there was a significant disparity between the parties’ financial positions.

The Applicant had no source of income while the Respondent had an income from his businesses and family trust.

The Court said that the Applicant would be disadvantaged if the Respondent did not contribute towards her legal costs because she was not able to fund her litigation on the same scale as the Respondent without his financial contribution.

Implications for Divorce and Family Law

In relation to spousal maintenance orders, it is an established legal principle that where money is not an issue, there is no reason why an ex-spouse should not maintain the same standard of life that they did during the marriage. This case extends this principle to interim maintenance orders under Rule 43 Applications.

Lessons to be Learned from the Case for Potential Clients 

Potential clients should be advised that they do not have to wait for their divorce case to be finalised before they can be granted a maintenance order.

The law provides a process to take care of financial uncertainties pending the finalisation of a divorce case through Rule 43 Applications.  

Under these circumstances, Rule 43 Applications ensure that no party is prejudiced and lacks financial resources to pursue their divorce case or maintain their standard of living during the legal proceedings.

Recommendations for Individuals Facing Similar Situations

Individuals facing legal divorce proceedings are advised to speak to Divorce and Family Law Specialist Attorneys about the possibility of obtaining interim relief under a Rule 43 Application.

Judge and Legal Teams

Judge: Mazibuko AJ 

Counsel for the Applicant: Ms Liebenberg

Attorney for the Applicant: Pottas Attorneys

Counsel for the Respondent: Mr Van Vuuren

Attorney for the Respondent: Weavind & Weavind Attorneys

Read More:

GNS V JL

Interim Relief in the High Court through Rule 43 Applications

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