Even the rich feel the pinch of the economic impact of Covid-19, as a mother of two small children discovered in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The mother went to court to force her estranged husband to pay R130 000 a month in maintenance, pending their divorce.
The wife, a practising attorney, told the court she only earned a net salary of R15 000 a month. Her husband, on the other hand, earned about R170 000 a month.
But the husband said as from the end of May, he was jobless following a retrenchment and could no longer afford to pay for his wife’s lavish lifestyle.
Among her list of demands is maintenance of R60 000 towards their two small children – R30 000 per child a month.
This includes R4 000 a month for food for each child, as well as R4 750 towards the children’s monthly entertainment bill.
As for herself, the wife said she needed R79 000 to see the month through as well as a contribution of R50 000 towards her legal fees in their divorce battle. All and all, to make ends meet, she said she needed R131 155.71 – as these were her monthly expenses.
She also asked the court to ensure that her husband continued paying the R33 000 a month bond on the house in which she and the children stayed.
The husband, on the other hand, said it was time that his wife contributed as well towards the maintenance of the household and the children, as he was now unemployed.
He said he would in fact now have to rely on her “to provide for his daily needs”.
According to the husband, in the past he used to spend only about R17 500 of his R170 000 a month income on his personal expenses, thus he had enough to maintain the family in the style they were used to.
But as things now stood, he asked the court in a counter application to order the wife to contribute at least R31 500 to the household expenses.
The wife in return vehemently denied that she could now maintain her husband. She said she was sure he would find another job.
Judge Colleen Collis said in her judgment spouses had a duty to support each other and maintain their children between them.
“An argument cannot be made out that only one parent must carry such an obligation (towards the children) exclusively.”
She said the wife was not “a woman of straw” and added the husband would receive a severance package. Thus she ordered both parties to share the R47 000 expenses earmarked by the wife for school fees, insurance and bond repayment.
She further ordered the husband to pay R5 000 maintenance per month per child.
The judge said where the parents financial position changes, which is a reality in life, children need to alter their lifestyles accordingly.