Latest Divorce Statistics South Africa

2015-07-14-1436888220-3351696-marriagedivorcesign (1)

The 2015 divorce data reported were based on 25 260 completed divorce forms that Stats SA received and processed by the end of December 2016.

In 2015, 25 260 completed divorce forms were processed indicating an increase of 2,3% processed in 2014. There were more female than male plaintiffs. The median ages at divorce in 2015 were 44 years for men and 40 years for women. About 45,4% of the 2015 divorces came from marriages that lasted less than 10 years. In 2015, there were 14 045 (55,6%) divorces with children aged less than 18 years affected. Couples from the white population group dominated the number of divorces from 2003 to 2007; thereafter, black African couples had the highest number of divorces up until 2015. In 2003, 40,0% of the divorcees were from the white population group whereas 24,3% came from the black African population group. By 2015, 42,9% of the divorcees were from the black African population group and 26,1% from the white population group. The proportions of the divorcees from the coloured and the Indian/Asian population groups were quite invariable during the thirteen-year period.

Characteristics of plaintiffs

The 2015 data presented show that more wives than husbands, 13 038 (51,6%) women compared to 8 538 (33,8%) initiated divorce and 2 171 (8,6%) divorces were initiated by both husband and wife.

Except for women from the black African population who had a lower proportion of plaintiffs (45,3%), the proportion of women plaintiffs from the other population groups was above 50,0%. The proportion of women plaintiffs for the white population group, Indian/Asian population group and coloured population group were 58,8%, 55,7% and 54,1% respectively.

The provincial distribution indicates that more people from Gauteng divorced followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In total, 61,5% of divorces granted in 2015 were from these three provinces.

Number of times married

The 2015 divorce cases for both men and women were mainly from individuals who had married once. More than 80,0% of divorces for men and women were from first-time marriages compared to 12,0% of men and 10,2% of women from second-time marriages. Almost 2,0% of men and women were getting divorced for at least the third time.

Age at the time of divorce

The median ages at the time of divorce in 2015 were 44 years for males and 40 years for females, indicating that generally, divorced males were older than divorced females, with a difference of about four years. The pattern of median ages in 2015 by population group shows that the highest median age of 44 years occurred among black African and white males, while the lowest median ages occurred among females from the Indian/Asian and ‘other’ population groups, at 39 and 36 years respectively. The difference in the median ages at the time of divorce between males and females was greater in the ‘other’ population group (six years) compared to the black African, coloured, Indian/Asian and white population groups. Although there were differences in the ages at which most men and women from the various population groups divorced, the age patterns were quite similar. The data reveal that there were fewer divorces among the younger (less than 25 years old) and the older (65 years and older) divorcees. For males, the peak age group at divorce was 40 to 44 for all population groups, except for the coloured population group where the highest peak was from the age group 45 to 49 years. In the case of females, the peak age group for coloured and white population groups was 40 to 44 years and the peak for black African and Indian/Asian population groups was 35 to 39 years.

Duration of marriage of divorcing couples

27,6% of divorces among males were for marriages that lasted between five and nine years. This group is followed by marriages that lasted between ten and fourteen years 18,8% and marriages that lasted for less than five years 17,8%. Thus 45,4% of the divorces in 2015 were marriages that lasted for less than 10 years. According to the results, irrespective of the population group, the highest proportion of divorces occurred to couples who had been married for five to nine years. Thus 32,3% of divorces from the black African; 26,1% from white; 24,9% from coloured and 23,7% from Indian/Asian population groups were marriages that lasted between five and nine years. The white population had the highest proportion 23,6% of divorces that occurred in the first five years. The proportion of divorces in all population groups declined as the duration of marriage increased, with a significant decline being observed after nine years of marriage.

Divorces involving couples with minor children

In 2015, 55,6% of the divorces had children younger than 18 years. The coloured and the white population groups had the highest and lowest proportion of divorces involving couples with children with 63,1% and the 47,2% respectively. 45,6% of children affected by divorce were from the black African population group; 21,6% from the white population group; 20,1% from the coloured population group and 5,9% from the Indian/Asian population group.

Compiled by: Bertus Preller – Family Law Attorney
Bertus Preller & Associates Inc.
10 Pepper Street, Cape Town, 8000
Telephone: +27 21 422-2461
E-mail: info(@)preller.co.za
Twitter: @bertuspreller

The Effects of Divorce on Children

The Effects of Divorce on Children

As a family law attorney I am involved on a daily basis in stories about divorce or care and contact issues between parents and children and many times I see how the loss of a parent has affected the lives of children. Although my approach is  always clinical, I’m often saddened by these stories, but in awe as to how many of these adult children have risen above their loss to develop an emotionally healthy outlook on life.

It was with great interest that I watched psychotherapist, Gary Neuman, who appeared on one of Oprah’s shows. Gary interviewed two young children, a brother and sister; they were abandoned by their mother when she divorced her husband, their father. Both children were crying, and yet were remarkably articulate in their description of their thoughts and feelings regarding their mother’s abandonment of them due to divorce. While parents do divorce each other, they don’t divorce their children.

Children nonetheless are the ones who live out the divorce because their day-to-day routines, not to mention their emotional lives, are so deeply affected by it. And of course, the impact of being estranged or abandoned by a parent as a result of divorce can have far reaching and long lasting consequences on their lives. A number of experts on children of divorce question whether the abandonment or estrangement necessarily leads to lifelong behavioural and emotional scarring. What they do find is that one parent’s love, nurturing, and support, can go a long way to helping a child overcome many of the emotional and behavioural issues that otherwise could ensue.

It is a fact that divorce can affect the closeness of the parent versus child relationship for a number for reasons and can take a serious emotional toll on the child. Joan Kelly, one of the America’s foremost experts on children of divorce, defines an estranged relationship between a parent and child as a diminished, thinned out, and less meaningful bond. She says that 24% of children in the United States from divorced families are seeing a parent once a year, if at all and one may assume that this figure is even bigger in South Africa.

In his research, Robert Emery Director of the Centre for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, found that non-residential fathers saw their children only 4 times per month following divorce, and about 20% of children had no contact at all with their fathers 2-3 years after divorce. Other research have concluded that, many students of divorced parents who had a limited relationship with their fathers while growing up stated that they would have liked more contact with their fathers during their adolescence, would have liked to have been closer, and wanted more time together. It is a fact that a parent’s rejection of a child or a parent’s inconsistent presence could drastically affect a child’s self esteem.

One good parent who is loving and nurturing can overcome the negative effects of losing the relationship with the other parent. While the emotional impact on a child resulting from the loss of a parent’s relationship could be significant, it doesn’t have to be disastrous.

The following advice should be considered:

  • Family is not a just about biology. Find role models who will support and care about you. Be there for your kids.
  • Be reliable, pay maintenance, show your love, and do what you say you are going to do.
  • Provide help. Initiate the conversation about their loss of the relationship with their other parent.
  • Lend an understanding ear. Don’t lecture, and don’t feel you have to have the perfect answer.
  • Honesty. Find help for what to say to your children if you don’t know what to say. Children need to be heard.
  • You can’t control what the other parent does; you can only control yourself.
  • To help your children get through their pain, ensure that they feel heard and listened to –that gives them value.

You want your children to perceive themselves with their own goals and aspirations, independent of their status as the children of divorce.

Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney in Cape Town and has more than 20 years experience in most sectors of the law and 13 years as a practicing attorney. He specializes in Family law and Divorce Law at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys Inc. in Cape Town. Bertus is also the Family Law expert on Health24.com and on the expert panel of Law24.com and is frequently quoted on Family Law issues in newspapers such as the Sunday Times and Business Times. His areas of expertise are Divorce Law, Family Law, Divorce Mediation, Parenting Plans, Parental Responsibilities and Rights, Custody (care and contact) of children, same sex marriages, unmarried fathers rights, domestic violence matters, international divorce law, digital rights, media law and criminal law.

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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

It happens frequently that one parent of a child would abuse the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act to block the contact that the other parent have towards their child. This was an issue that was dealt with in the case of Narodien v Andrews 2002 (3) SA 500 (C).

The matter came before the Court for review at the request of one of the magistrates of the Cape Town magistrate’s court. The applicant and respondent were the biological parents of a boy, L, aged five, born out of wedlock. The applicant father had applied to the magistrate’s court in terms of the Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 (the Act) for an interim protection order against the respondent mother. The affidavit accompanying the application had, however, contained no details of any ‘acts of domestic violence’ committed by the respondent. The parties were embroiled in a dispute concerning the applicant’s access to his son. The respondent had allegedly agreed on various occasions to allow the applicant to see the child but would not allow the child to spend an entire weekend with his father. The applicant wanted L to spend every second weekend with him from Friday 6 pm to Sunday 6 pm. The relief applied for by the applicant in the magistrate’s court was that he be granted ‘access to his son’ as stipulated.

The magistrate hearing the matter had issued an ‘interim protection order’ against the respondent. The order did not mention any acts of domestic violence but simply ordered the respondent not to prevent the applicant from having contact with his son. On the return date of the ‘interim protection order’ the respondent opposed the issuing of a ‘final protection order’. It appeared from the evidence that the respondent was unwilling to allow the child to remain with his father for an entire weekend because this would mean that he would miss out on the Sunday morning church service to which his mother habitually took him and, further, that the respondent would be unable to limit the opportunities which the child had to interact with the applicant’s family. The magistrate hearing the matter, however, confirmed the ‘interim protection order’, ordering the respondent to allow the applicant access to his son from Friday 7 pm to Sunday 4 pm every alternate weekend.

The respondent subsequently applied for the setting aside of the ‘protection order’. The magistrate hearing that application varied the previous order made by granting the applicant access to the child from 7 pm Friday to 7 pm Saturday and from 11 am Sunday to 5 pm Sunday every alternate weekend until such time as access could be determined by the High Court. The applicant had been present at court but, due to a misunderstanding, was not in court when the matter was heard. The ‘variation order’ was accordingly granted in his absence. The magistrate subsequently requested the High Court to set aside the ‘variation order’ on the grounds that the order had been incorrectly granted in the absence of one of the parties. Following upon queries by the Court as to the legitimacy of the ‘protection order’, the magistrate referring the matter for review stated that the definition of ‘domestic violence’ in the Act included any controlling or abusive behaviour towards the complainant where such conduct harmed or could cause imminent harm to the safety, health and well-being of the complainant and that the conduct complained of by the applicant in the instant matter had fallen within this definition. The magistrate stated further that the court had been satisfied that undue emotional hardship would be suffered by the applicant if a protection order were not issued immediately.

The court found that the High Court in its capacity as upper guardian of all minor children within its area of jurisdiction, however, had an inherent common-law jurisdiction mero motu to review the so-called ‘protection orders’ granted by the magistrate’s court in the instant matter, as such orders directly concerned the interests of a minor child within its area of jurisdiction.

While the concept of ‘domestic violence’ was defined very broadly in s 1 of the Act, such definition had to be placed within the context of the Act as a whole and not be viewed in isolation.

An interpretation of s 7(6) of the Act which would empower a magistrate’s court to make ‘stand-alone’ orders concerning access to a minor child in cases where the parents were embroiled in a dispute about access amounted to a radical departure from the relevant common-law principles and statutory provisions relating to child welfare and statutory interpretation. Such interpretation of s 7(6) of the Act could even mean, theoretically, that the magistrate’s court would have territorial jurisdiction to make orders concerning access where the High Court would have no such jurisdiction. This construction offended against the tenet of statutory interpretation that, as far as possible, statutes had to be interpreted so as not to give rise to absurd, anomalous or unreasonable results.

The mischief which s 7(6) of the Act had been meant to address was a lack of an express provision in other family violence legislation for the courts granting family violence interdicts to make ancillary orders relating to contact with minor children, so ensuring that children at risk were protected from domestic violence and that the protection of the adult applicant was not compromised by arrangements relating to contact between the respondent and any children living with the applicant. This purpose was a far cry from an interpretation of s 7(6) which would empower the magistrate’s court to make a ‘protection order’ under the Act which consisted solely of an order granting access to a minor child or regulating the exercise of such access. Orders concerning access made in terms of s 7(6) had to be ancillary to a ‘protection order’ of the kind envisaged in s 7(1) of the Act. A stand alone order as to access could not legitimately be regarded as falling within the powers vested in the magistrate’s court by s 7(1) (h).

As such it should be noted that a Domestic Violence order may be taken on review to the High Court if there are grounds to do so. To use the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act simply as a measure to block the contact of the other parent is wrong and may therefore be set aside.

Bertus Preller

Family Law Attorney

Abrahams and Gross Inc.

http://www.divorceattorney.co.za