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Divorce Settlement Agreements - What you should know?

Posted by: Bertus

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When your spouse serves a summons on you, must DO something! If you do fail to put in a notice of your intention to defend, the case can be finalised without any further reference to you and this can be disastrous as the Plaintiff (the spouse that issues the Summons) can be awarded exactly what were requested in the Summons. Therefore you will need to get advice from a divorce attorney. It may cost you some money, but it is better to know your rights than to lose all that you have contributed to all those years.

Bad legal Advice

A lot of people have lost plenty by listening to the wrong advice about their divorces, so choose the right attorney, not any attorney, but one that specialises in divorce matters. Third, an attorney, is only as good as the information he gets from his client so you must give your attorney the best possible and most complete information that is available, to enable him or her to give you the right advice. Finally, you must really listen to the advice, critically. Analyse the advice and ask questions. Challenge it, if you have any doubts at all. Most importantly, don’t simply cheer because you think you have got the advice you really wanted to hear. Be suspicious of your own thought processes.

A Bad Settlement Agreement

You must have a full, comprehensive settlement agreement, and it’s best if it was prepared by an expert divorce attorney. It must be able to answer all the questions you ask about issues that must be settled when marriage ends. The following information (if applicable) should be obtained and discussed before you draw up your settlement agreement

 1.       Children

1.1  Access

  • Reasonable access or restricted access
  • Weekends (Hours)
  • Long Weekends
  • Hours
  • Visits

1.2  Custody

1.3  Maintenance

1.4  Medical Expenses

1.5  School Fees

1.6  Tertiary Education

  2.       Spouse

2.1  Maintenance

  3.       Insurance and Policies

3.1  Life Insurance

3.2  Short term insurance

3.3  You will also need the following regarding each policy:

  • Insured
  • Insurance Company
  • Policy Number
  • Beneficiary
  • Date of Issue
  • Surrender value
  • Premiums per month/year
  • Who is going to take it over?

  4.       Immovable Property


  • Physical Address
  • Description in Title Deed
  • Purchase price
  • Date of Purchase
  • Market value
  • Bond
  • Balance of Bond
  • Payments and deposits
  • Insurance
  • Taxes
  • What is going to happen to the property?

  5.       Pension moneys


  • Name of pension fund
  • Number of pension fund
  • Value
  • Percentage of share
  • Manner and type of payment

  6.       Banking accounts


  • Types
  • Name of Bank
  • Amounts



  • Types
  • Name of company  
  • Amount
  • Manner and time for payment

  8.       Movable Property


  • For example furniture, appliances etc
  • Who will get what?

  9.       Vehicles


  • Make of vehicle
  • Registration details

  10.    Debt


  • List of Creditors
  • Amounts due

  11.    Legal Costs


  • Who will pay the legal costs?


Failing To Comply With A Settlement Agreement

After the agreement was concluded make sure that you follow the requirements of the agreement to the ‘T’. And, make sure that your ‘ex’ is equally careful to comply with the agreement. By all means, if something comes up that you were not expecting or you are in doubt, call a meeting to discuss it. But, do not just leave it – you may wind up in court, on the losing side. Besides, if you fail to comply with even just one of your duties in terms of the agreement, you will be giving the ‘ex’ ammunition.

E          Becoming Frustrated and Giving Up

Negotiations can take a long time and it is sometimes very emotionally draining. So also can the legal process be. Be patient no matter what happens, patience is a strong element in the negotiation process. But having said that, do not let time go by with nothing happening – this may suit the opposition. Certainly, if you just ‘give up’ because you are too tired, stressed or financially stretched to stay the distance, you may be playing into the other person’s hands.

Being Way Too Generous

There are many reasons why people are too generous in a divorce settlement. They may be hoping that their generosity will lure their errant spouse back to the marital bed. It will not, it will merely give him or her greater satisfaction and the feeling that they have definitely done the right thing in leaving you. Another reason for great generosity is an attempt to settle a guilty conscience. You will know, and others will know, that it is too little, too late. Save your money.

Compiled by:

Bertus Preller

Family Law Attorney

KWJ Inc.

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