- A man in Gauteng is about to have everything he owns seized, unless he can come up with a bit under R2.2 million pretty quickly.
- That, says his former wife, is what he owes in accumulated maintenance.
- The couple divorced in 1995.
- The husband tried to fight off a writ of execution, but the high court in Johannesburg did not take kindly to his patchy payments over the years.
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A Gauteng man has a small window of opportunity to find some R2.2 million in cash he says he does not have, before everything he owns will be seized to settle the bill on a divorce that happened 27 years ago.
Just how much all his worldly possessions will fetch is not clear; he first claimed to own nothing of value, then said he had recently come into an inheritance, claiming that was why his wife was now coming after him.
But until he has paid off his debt to his ex-wife, she can seize his stuff, the high court ruled this week, dismissing an application he launched after the sheriff came knocking on his door.
The man had, said Johannesburg high court judge Leicester Adams, failed to kick up enough dust to obscure the fact that he had for years “either short-paid or did not pay anything” on his divorce settlement.
When the couple divorced in September 1995, the agreement was that the man would pay monthly maintenance of R750 for their daughter, as well as the cost of her education. All of her education, from nursery right through to tertiary, “including, but not limited to fees and levies, books and stationery, sport equipment and clothes, extra murals and extra lessons”.
That daughter is now a registered psychologist, having completed studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.
He also agreed to pay half of any extraordinary medical and dental costs.
In 2016, says his ex-wife, his obligation came to a bit more than R230,000, but he paid her nothing. In other years, he handed over some money, but not nearly enough; in 2004, for instance, his total payments came to not much more than R28,000, while they should have been more than R70,000.
The ex-wife told the court she is ready to prove such claims, via some 2,000 pages of evidence she has put together over the years.
The father appears keen to answer such allegations “at some point in the distant future “, said Adams in judgment, but has so far done nothing to cast any doubt on his indebtedness.
“It is also instructive that nowhere in his papers does [he] even attempt to give an indication of the amounts he alleges he paid to [his ex-wife] pursuant to the maintenance orders incorporated into the court order of September 1995.”
Having carried the load for more than two decades, it would be an injustice to make the ex-wife wait any longer before she is allowed to seize her former husband’s property, Adams said.