Wife can foot her own shoe bill, court says

Published Dec 7, 2023


To maintain a lavish lifestyle or not was the question the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg had to decide.

The matter at was an application where a wife, who is divorcing her husband, wanted more than R127 000 maintenance a month for herself, pending the divorce, as she said her shoes and clothes cost R20 000.

Much of the maintenance the wife claims for herself is for entertainment and luxury. She is claiming relatively little for their two children.

She argued that her husband had introduced her to a lavish lifestyle and she wanted to maintain that lifestyle.

Apart from her shoes and clothes expenses, the wife said she needed R10 000 and an additional R35 000 pocket money a month for herself, as well as R20 000 a month for gifts. Regarding maintenance for their two children, she claimed R19 999.32 a month, per child.

The wife is also unhappy about the fact that her estranged husband had moved her and the children from their large home, where he paid R30 000 a month rent. She complained that she had to make do with a much smaller house, for which he paid R9 500 a month.

She also wanted a R140 000 contribution towards her legal costs.

The wife told the court that due to the husband’s polygamous relationship during their marriage, his time was divided between her and his first wife. He used to spend two days and three nights a week between the two households.

She asserts marriage to the husband under “Shona and Xhosa” rights. She filed for divorce in May this year.

The husband opposed the maintenance application as he is paying nearly every expense to maintain the household. He is also paying R15 500 a month for the maintenance of their minor children.

Apart from paying for the wife and children’s house, their domestic worker and the school fees, he also foots the bill for other expenses.

Acting Judge Kganki Phahlamohlaka cited case law in which it was said that a spouse (who was usually the wife) was entitled to reasonable maintenance, pending divorce and dependent upon the marital standard of living of the parties, her actual and reasonable requirements and the capacity of her husband to meet such requirements.

The judge pointed out that in that case, the wife had a job and earned R17 812.55 a month. The judge said it was unclear why additional maintenance was needed or why she could not survive on that salary.

“The Applicant complains about the size of the house she is currently staying in with the minor children, but she does not explain in the papers why the smaller house is not suitable except to say the Respondent was paying the rental in the amount of R30 000.00 before and now he moved her and minor children to a house where rental is in the amount of R9 500.00 monthly.”

The judge added that it was common cause that the husband was depositing money in the wife’s bank account but the deposits do not equate to the amount she was claiming for spousal maintenance, especially on entertainment and for a lavish lifestyle.

In light of the other expenses paid by the husband, the judge said the wife could make do on her own salary.

“The Applicant, as a gainfully employed individual, can survive on her income, pending divorce.”

The judge added that the wife had not been candid with the court in respect of her monthly expenses. For example, she listed as her monthly expenses, among others, R20 000 for clothing and shoes for herself, R10 000 pocket money for herself, R35 000.00 pocket money for herself and R20 000 for gifts.

“This is not supported by any evidence and therefore I find it unrealistic that the respondent was spending such a lot of money only for luxuries,” the judge said.

The husband was ordered to continue paying the R15 500 a month for the maintenance of the children and the other expenses.

But the wife would have to foot her own shoe and clothes bill, as well as the other luxuries she needed.

Pretoria News