A Free State wife who refused to share her pension fund after retiring was unable to secure R14,000 in spousal maintenance and payment for her medical aid and also lost half of her husband’s pension fund.
The pair got married in community of property in February 2000.
In 2020, the wife moved out of their marital home and then instituted divorce proceedings.
She wanted the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein to order the husband to pay monthly spousal maintenance in the amount of R14,000. She also wanted to remain a beneficiary on his medical aid plan, even after he has retired, and also get 50% from his pension fund.
She said her son gives her R10,000 every month, and she uses it to pay for rent, which is R6,200, and the rest is for upkeep.
She added that she was 70-years-old and unemployed, and despite her age, she was not receiving a grant, as she was previously told she was not eligible since her husband is employed.
In his defence, the husband said that he will keep the wife on his medical aid until he retires on December 31, 2023; however, post-retirement, he will no longer be fully subsidised and won’t be able to keep his wife on the medical aid.
He further pleaded that he cannot afford the R14,000 spousal maintenance because his monthly income was R20,000.
Adding to that, he said his wife would be unduly benefiting from his pension because when she received hers in 2014, she told him that the money was for her and her children and refused to contribute meaningfully to the joint estate; instead, she gave her son R20,000.
He further testified that despite having an agreement that she would pay off the loan they had taken to extend the house when she retired, she refused to settle the loan; however, later in 2020, she paid R30,000 towards the loan.
According to him, he doesn’t know what she did with the rest of the funds.
In her evidence, the wife said she received over R270,000 as her pension payout. She used some of the money to pave the yard, bought sofas, inserted built-in cupboards, bought a shack, and paid for the daughter’s wedding.
However, during cross-examination, she conceded that most of these items were paid for by both parties long before she got her pension payout, some even years before. In conceding, she blamed her memory loss on diabetes.
Furthermore, she said she paid for two doors, which were both R14,000; however, the husband disputed the amount on the basis that the doors were not the same size and could not have cost R7,000 each.
Lastly, she also paid R10,000 towards their car and invested the rest of the money in Absa and Capitec.
Upon evaluating the evidence, Judge DP Mthimunye said the wife’s conduct and attitude in respect of her own pension showed that she behaved in a selfish and self-centred manner towards the husband.
Furthermore, it was held that the spousal maintenance she demanded was done from a position of ignorance because the amount even exceeded what the husband would be getting on a monthly basis after retiring.
Judge Mthimunye added that if the wife were to get 50% of the husband’s fund, that would go against the principles of justice and fairness.
Therefore, the wife was awarded 25% of her husband’s pension fund.
The judge was also of the view that the wife will be able to sustain herself and pay her own medical aid from the lump sum she was going to get from the pension fund and the money she has invested in Absa and Capitec.