Judge tells de­mand­ing wife to get a job

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - ZELDA VEN­TER zelda.ven­[email protected]

PULL in your belt and find a job if you want to main­tain your lav­ish life­style.

This was the mes­sage a judge had for a mother of three who is di­vorc­ing her hus­band. The woman had turned to the High Court in Joburg, de­mand­ing more main­te­nance for her and her chil­dren, pend­ing the out­come of their di­vorce set­tle­ment.

While her es­tranged hus­band earns a salary of R36 100 a month, the 27-yearold woman told the court her monthly ex­penses to­talled R53 000.

She added that her hus­band, who is “staunch Greek Otho­dox”, never al­lowed her to work. Thus, not used to go­ing to work daily, cou­pled with the de­mands made by her three small chil­dren, she is un­em­ploy­able.

But this did not go down well with the judge, who said he was as­tounded by her monthly ex­penses in light of her hus­band’s in­come.

The judge said the woman is push­ing for a life­style her hus­band sim­ply can­not af­ford – not while they were mar­ried, and not now.

“Quite sim­ply, the ap­pli­cant has painted her­self as an un­rea­son­able per­son,” Act­ing Judge NN Bam said.

The woman is de­mand­ing R20 000 main­te­nance a month for her and the chil­dren; over R9 000 for mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices; he has to pay their med­i­cal aid; and over R10 000 a month to­wards the chil­dren’s pri­vate school fees.

The woman also wanted her hus­band to pay R20 000 to­wards her le­gal fees, while he has to foot the bill for this ap­pli­ca­tion.

The hus­band in turn said he sim­ply could not af­ford this. As things stand, he is liv­ing with his par­ents, and is al­ready pay­ing the bulk of his monthly salary to­wards his es­tranged wife and chil­dren. He barely had money left to pay for petrol and toi­letries, he said.

But the woman was adamant that it was his fault that she was “un­em­ploy­able”. She said as a staunch Ortho­dox Greek, he never al­lowed her to work as only she and the grand­moth­ers were al­lowed to take care of the chil­dren.

She said she held a de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture, but she had never worked in this field. But her hus­band said she chose not to work.

The judge asked whether there were any health is­sues which pre­vented her from work­ing, to which she an­swered no. In his judg­ment he said: “I find it as­ton­ish­ing, to say the least, that she con­cluded that she is un­em­ploy­able.”

He ac­cepted that she did not have prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence in her field, but said many young grad­u­ates faced the same prob­lem, and her sit­u­a­tion was not unique.

“I ac­cept there are chal­lenges in res­tart­ing one’s life after hav­ing spent time at home as a home-maker. “How­ever, of­ten women – some at ad­vanced ages and im­pelled by fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties – do find a way to make it work.”

The judge re­jected the no­tion that she is un­em­ploy­able. He or­dered the hus­band to pay R3 800 a month to his wife and R2 500 per child, pend­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of their di­vorce. Her re­quest that he pay her le­gal fees was de­clined.

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