Interview with one of Cape Town’s Top Divorce Attorneys Bertus Preller at Abrahams and Gross Inc.
Why do people and celebrities from all over South Africa come to you for divorce and family law matters?
Well, firstly, I guess it is because I care a great deal, I work hard and I am involved personally in my client’s cases. I am only as good as the team behind me and our office staff and junior attorneys really assist in alleviating a lot of the pressure associated with my work
What is a typical day look like for you?
I commence work at 5am in the mornings doing my normal correspondence until 7am, drop my daughter at school at 8 am and start seeing clients from 9am till 3pm by the hour, three days a week other days I will be in Court. Evening times I use to read and blog on Family Law issues, study case law and spend time with my family.
You are also the founder of eDivorce a do it yourself divorce platform in South Africa, can you tell us more about this?
eDivorce is a divorce document generating platform and generates all the documents that you will need to conclude an uncontested divorce in South Africa with a click of a button.
So how does the eDivorce process work?
A user will browse a web page, http://www.edivorce.co.za fill in a questionnaire and the technology platform will then generate all the necessary documents such as the Summons, Particulars of Claim, Settlement Agreement, Family Advocate Affidavit, Notice of Set Down and Statistics Form. A team of experts then checks whether the documents were drafted correctly and release them to the user. The document generation process takes 24-hours and the divorce itself, depending which court you file in takes between 3 – 8 weeks.
How many divorces have you handled so far?
It is difficult to say, more than 400.
What are the reasons why people divorce in South Africa?
There are so many reasons, but the most frequent reasons are infidelity, physical, emotional or verbal abuse, money, in-law problems, life transitions, addictions, childhood baggage, different life agendas, life overload, mid life crisis and controlling behaviour.
Are you not concerned about the high divorce rate in South Africa?
Yes, most definitely. A healthy society is built on a solid marital foundation and it is the reason why I urge my client’s always to reconcile if the slightest possibility exist to make things work. If that is not possible, then my roll becomes clinical and the interests of my client and the minor children come first.
Are people generally up to scratch with their rights in a divorce?
Yes and No. The internet and media have played a significant role in educating people on all aspects of life, so in many instances you will find that a party in a divorce matter will know what he/she will be entitled to claim, but in other instances people seem to lack that knowledge, especially women.
Don’t you get subjectively involved in your clients lives?
In order to be successful you have to look at a case clinically. Like a doctor operating on a patient. You have to distance yourself from the emotional aspects. But yes, there are times that you are touched by the hurt of the parties involved, especially when there are children involved. So to answer your question, I am human after all.
Don’t you think people give up to easy in their marriage?
It is difficult to say. It depends on the facts of each case. In a matter concerning adultery, it is very difficult for instance. People can forgive, but forgetting is rather difficult, so unless there is not a huge effort from both spouses to mend the relationship, it will not work and divorce will be inevitable. But then there are many instances where parties can mend their relationships and where opting for divorce would be wrong. Unfortunately life has become like a remote control, if you don’t dig the channel you simply click and change it, so if you don’t like the relationship you click and move on, I don’t think that is a good thing for society as a whole.
What advice can you give to someone going through a divorce?
When there are children involved you have to set the emotions apart and make decisions in the best interests of the children. Divorce is always an emotional rollercoaster and although how difficult it may sound, you have to think with your brain and not with your heart. Relationships are all about control, like using a remote to change the TV channels, one of the parties constantly changes the channels, the kids, the money etc. and that is where many problems surface.