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Barend B.
Barend B., Legal Consultant
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 1361
Experience:  BLC LLB (Pret) LLM (Augsburg)
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I have a relative living in the Uk. She was married to her

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I have a relative living in the Uk. She was married to her husband for 27 years, and two years ago, they had an amicable divorce. Her husband came back to SA, and when my sister was here on family business, the divorce papers were signed.
No alimony was agreed upon, as they had a verbal agreement in place and my sister trusted that this would be honoured.
Her ex husband pays maintenance for their one daughter still living at home, and studying (she's 19), but continuously lowers the amount (due to the exchange rate apparently), and has now said he will not be paying after next year.

Can my sister sue for alimony now? After the divorce?
Good afternoon,

Your sister won't be able to claim maintenance, because the daughter is past the age of majority, which is 18. The daughter, however, will be able to institute a claim for maintenance as long as she can prove the need for maintenance (list of expenses and income will suffice). The problem arise as to which forum she is going to use. She is living in the UK, so the SA courts won't have jurisdiction unless she first obtains an order in the UK courts and then let it be enforced in SA. It will be a costly affair and the father must be made to understand that no matter where he is, he is liable for maintenance until the child is no longer dependant on the parents, and he will be liable for the costs incurred.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi - the question is not about the daughter's maintenance, it's about whether my sister (the ex wife) can sue for alimony now, after the divorce?

On what basis would she claim maintenance? Maintenance is another word for alimony. If it is not for the daughter, why would she need maintenance?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

bascially to live. My sister has been a stay at home mom to four children, and is now battling to get full time work because she lacks experience. When her ex left the UK, he promised to send money to her each month for normal expenses etc. Not long after he got here, that changed to just maintenance for the daughter, and she's been trying to live on that - but if he now wants to drop the amount, and then stop payment next year, she won't cope.

The problem is that the amount that is paid is maintenance for the daughter and not for her. If she wants to sue for maintenance she will have to prove that there is a duty on her ex to support her, and without a court order (as should have been included in the divorce order) that is going to be very difficult. A verbal agreement is very hard to prove, unless she had witnesses or communication to substantiate this agreement. If she can prove the existence of this agreement, then it is a contractual claim and he will be required to honour it. But as with a claim by the daughter, it will be expensive, because she's in the UK and he is in SA.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So she'd have to apply to the UK courts first? and it's only really worth it if she has some kind of evidence of the verbal agreement?

Yes, she must have evidence of the verbal agreement. And when she applies to the UK courts, the summons will have to be served on him in SA, which means it could take months. If she starts the procedure in SA, she will have to appoint attorneys here in SA to handle the litigation on her behalf. But without proof of the verbal agreement, it will not matter where she institutes the proceedings, because she won't be successful. It will be a case of his word against hers.

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