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The Family Law Round-Up April 2024 – 18 Recent Family Law Cases You Should Know About

Family law april

Welcome to the Family Law Round-Up for April 2024, where we delve into 18 recent cases that have made significant contributions to the landscape of family law in South Africa. These cases cover a variety of topics, from divorce and forfeiture to the validity of customary marriages and surrogacy agreements. Each case offers unique insights into the evolving standards and legal principles impacting family law.


1. Divorce: T.S v M.L.S [2024] ZAGPPHC 289 Court: North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria

In this case, the court examined a forfeiture claim within a divorce where the parties were married in community of property since 1999. The plaintiff sought forfeiture of pension benefits due to the defendant’s past abuse, financial mismanagement, and an extramarital affair. The court decided against forfeiture, emphasizing that the lengthy duration of the marriage and the remoteness of the alleged misconduct did not justify such an order.


2. Divorce: N.A.M v M.S.M [2024] ZAFSHC 97 Court: Free State High Court, Bloemfontein

The plaintiff requested the forfeiture of 50% of the defendant’s pension interest, citing lack of contribution to the growth of the joint estate and persistent unemployment. The court granted the forfeiture, highlighting the defendant’s lack of financial contribution and refusal to seek employment as key factors.


3. Divorce: K.B.P v T.L.P [2024] ZANWHC 105 Court: North West High Court, Mafikeng

This case involved the defendant seeking forfeiture against the plaintiff concerning pension interests and arrears maintenance for children. The court effected a set-off between the parties’ pension interests, taking into account the defendant’s failure to maintain their children over nine years.


4. Customary Marriages: B.C.G v S.J.M [2024] ZAFSHC 92 Court: Free State High Court, Bloemfontein

A dispute over the existence of a customary marriage was at the center of this case. The court ruled that a written lobola contract is not essential for a valid customary marriage, provided other customary rites are fulfilled.


5. Customary Marriages: J.E and Others v B.P.M [2024] ZAMPMBHC 29 Court: Mpumalanga High Court, Mbombela

The appellants contested the validity of a customary marriage in the context of a deceased estate. The court upheld the lower court’s judgment, affirming the marriage’s validity based on customary practices, despite the absence of full lobola payment.


6. Rule 43: S.S v M.C [2024] ZAGPPHC 291 Court: High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria

This Rule 43 case addressed maintenance for the spouse and children, along with a contribution to costs. The court awarded interim maintenance but declined the request for a contribution to legal costs due to insufficient detailing of the issues in dispute and unsubstantiated claims.


7. Rule 43: H.K v C.K [2024] ZAWCHC 99 Court: Western Cape High Court, Cape Town

In a highly contentious divorce, the applicant sought maintenance and legal costs. The court criticized the unnecessary litigation and granted partial maintenance and a substantial contribution towards legal costs.


8. Rule 43: D.B v B.J.B [2024] ZAFSHC 112 Court: Free State High Court, Bloemfontein

Addressing interim maintenance and other financial claims, the court balanced the needs and financial capacities of both parties, ultimately reducing the maintenance awarded and denying additional claims for relocation costs and legal contributions.


9. Procedure: I.B.F v A.D.K and Another [2024] ZAGPPHC 296 Court: High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria

This procedural case involved multiple court appearances related to the Hague Convention. The court imposed punitive costs for abuse of process and confirmed a rule nisi, emphasizing the best interests of the children.


10. Procedure: L.M v M.M [2024] ZAGPJHC 325 Court: South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg

An appeal concerning the accrual system in a divorce was discussed, where the appellant contested an amendment to the accrual payable. The court dismissed the appeal, upholding the amendment as a correct application of Rule 42.


11. Procedure: M.R v L.O and Others [2024] ZAGPJHC 371 Court: South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg

The court ruled on the proper jurisdiction for issuing a writ of execution for unpaid maintenance, affirming the respondent’s right to choose the court from which to issue the writ.


12. Procedure: H.J v P.J [2024] ZASCA 55 Court: Supreme Court of Appeal

This appeal involved a regional court’s order compelling the respondent to provide further particulars for trial, which was initially set aside by the High Court. The Supreme Court of Appeal reinstated the regional court’s order, highlighting the interlocutory nature of such orders.


13. Procedure: L.R v T.S [2024] ZAGPJHC 336 Court: South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg

The court addressed the requirement of personal service in divorce matters, removing the case from the roll due to improper service when the defendant was in Australia.


14. Care and Contact: TH v CH [2024] ZAWCHC 100 Court: Western Cape High Court, Cape Town

Concerns over the mother’s ability to act in the best interests of the child due to substance abuse and alleged abuse led the court to order phased-in contact and appoint a parenting coordinator.


15. Contempt of Court: M.F v V.F and Others [2024] ZAGPJHC 318 Court: South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg

The applicant sought to declare his ex-wife in contempt for not complying with terms of a divorce settlement involving a trust. The application was dismissed, highlighting the collective responsibilities of trustees.


16. Contempt of Court: H.A.E v H.S.E [2024] ZAFSHC 114 Court: Free State High Court, Bloemfontein

The respondent was found in contempt for failing to comply with maintenance obligations and was fined and sentenced to suspended imprisonment.


17. Foreign Marriages: S.H v S.H [2024] ZAGPPHC 365 Court: North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria

This uncontested divorce under Zimbabwean law was marked by procedural complexities and ultimately proceeded based on the respondent’s failure to adequately defend.


18. Surrogacy: KB & Another v Minister of Social Development [2024] ZASCA 54 Court: Supreme Court of Appeal

The appellants challenged the constitutionality of section 294 of the Children’s Act, which requires a genetic link between the child to be born via surrogacy and at least one commissioning parent. The appeal was dismissed, affirming the section’s constitutionality.


Each of these cases offers valuable insights into the complexities of family law, underscoring the dynamic nature of legal interpretations and the importance of aligning legal arguments with current standards.


Contact us on the ThinkLegal groups today if you need more information about our upcoming webinars, designed to offer valuable insights and updates on the latest legal developments. Dive deeper into the topics that matter to you by purchasing our comprehensive resources pack, complete with summaries and PowerPoint presentations, ensuring you have all the tools at your disposal. Don’t miss out on the next Family Law Round-Up scheduled for 7 June 2024, where you’ll have the chance to connect with peers and gain invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of family law. And if you missed any of the previous Round-ups, nothing is stopping you from visiting our YouTube page to watch the tidbits of the previous months. 

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