Nthabiseng Monareng holds an LLB from Wits University and is studying for her LLM. Nthabi has more than 10 years experience in the legal field, specialising as a family law expert. She’s written books on family law and is a family law mediator.
Q CAN I CLAIM MAINTENANCE FROM MY WIFE?
When a divorce process is in progress, can a husband claim maintenance for himself and household contribution if the wife is not contributing? ANONYMOUS, MABOPANE
A Married spouses have a legal duty to financially support each other and to contribute to the household expenses. If your wife is not contributing and she is employed and can afford to, you can request the court to order her to contribute to the household expenses and to also financially support you.
Q FAMILY WANTS TO TAKE THEM AWAY FROM ME
I have two boys who are still young. Their father passed away in a car accident and now his parents want to take them away from me. They say they paid damages so they have a right to have the kids. Can they do that? ANONYMOUS, WELKOM
A The paternal grandparents do not have a right to take the children away from you. As the biological mother, you have full parental responsibilities and rights. You are the only one who can decide on the terms and conditions under which the grandparents can have access. The fact that they have paid damages does not give them any rights.
Q CAN I SUE MY HUSBAND’S MISTRESS?
I am married but separated from my husband. He is now living with someone else. What rights do I have? Can I sue the girlfriend for maintenance of my kids with my husband and for ruining my marriage? ANONYMOUS, PIMVILLE
A The law of South Africa does not recognise separation between married spouses. You need to make the decision whether you want to continue with the separation and him living with someone else or whether you want to file for divorce. If you are married in community of property, you will be held liable for any financial obligations that your husband enters into, that he does not pay. But you will also benefit from any assets or monies he gets. Unfortunately, you cannot sue the girlfriend as the law of adultery has been abolished in South Africa.
Q RIGHT TO CUT OFF POWER Can a municipality cut off electricity supply if a home owner is in arrears? ANONYMOUS, SOWETO
A Yes, the municipality has a right to cut off the electricity supply until payment or payment arrangement is made. Each month the municipality issues statements in terms of the municipal by-laws that each home owner must make payment by the due date.
Q REPOSSESSED GOODS What happens if a person has had his assets attached by a bank but the assets do not belong to the person being sued? ANONYMOUS, MAMELODI
A The owner of the assets must write an affidavit and send it to the sheriff. The sheriff then issues an interpleader summons. This is a procedure whereby the sheriff brings a matter to court in order to adjudicate over who the valid owner of the attached assets is. If it can be proven that the third party is the owner and not the person owing the bank, the sheriff has to return the assets to that person.