BRITISH RULING COULD SET THE BALL ROLLING IN SA

Monday, July 19, 2004
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Estelle Ellis
 
The divorce settlement won by English footballer Ray Parlour’s ex-wife will no doubt generate great excitement among South African divorce lawyers.
 
But those gearing up to have a similar principle recognised locally might have a shortage of clients.
 
Family law specialist Amanda Catto, from Bowman Gilfillan Findlay Tait Attorneys in Cape Town, says the judgment is remarkable in that it shifts the focus from need - which had up to now formed the basis of maintenance law in British and South African law.
 
"We have nothing similar in South Africa, but it might have formed part of a settlement agreement between divorcing spouses that we would not know about."
 
She predicted that the judgment would undoubtedly have an impact here.
 
"What the judges found is that where a couple have more than they need, they must share the surplus as well."
 
"I have no doubt that South African lawyers will jump on the bandwagon. This is quite different. We will all try (to get a similar principle recognised here)."
 
Catto explained that South African family law usually closely followed developments in British law.
 
She said South African maintenance laws did make provision for courts to take "any factor" into account that would make an order fair. This meant that the door could be open for a court to order that a share of a spouse’s future earnings be part of a divorce settlement.