Updated 04.04.2022

Divorce Rate in South Africa and Impact on Finances

The 2019 report, Marriages, and Divorces revealed a considerable decrease in the total number of marriages; nearly 50,000 fewer legal and customary marriages occurred in 2019 than in 2018. At the same time, the number of same-sex unions grew from 2015 to 2019.

The median age of marriage in Civil marriage has risen to 37 for males. While, it has risen 33 for women (up from 36 and 31 from 2015, respectively). However, most men marry women younger than themselves. A shocking discovery was that in 2019, 49.7% of all ‘never married males.’ Who married divorced women were the same age or younger than their new brides. The divorce rate in 2019 was 17.6 percent.

The figures reveal new trends and serve as a reminder to keep the basics in mind when planning a wedding.

Married a certain number of times

The majority of the 2019 divorce cases for both men and women came from people who had previously married. First-time marriages accounted for more than 80% of divorces for both men and women. It is compared to 11,8% for men and 10% for women in second-time marriages. Only around a quarter of a percent of men and women are getting a divorce for the third time.

Supporting each other in a reciprocal manner

A legal marriage in South Africa generates a mutual responsibility for support. It implies that one spouse owes the other a reciprocal duty to provide for the other. Which includes housing, clothing, food, healthcare, and other essentials, regardless of the marital status regime. It means that if the first-dying partner does not provide for the surviving spouse adequately in their will. The surviving spouse may file a claim for maintenance against the first-dying spouse’s assets. It is all done under the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act of 1990.

During 2010 and 2019, the number of civil weddings decreased steadily (between 3,600 and 41 229), implying that around 770,000 singles will continue to be solely responsible for their financial well-being.

The average age of first-time marriage is higher.

The fact that the average age of first-time marriages is rising has a variety of consequences. In the case of first-time marriage having a 37-year-old and 33-year-old, both parties are likely to have their assets, investments, and retirement plans.

It’s the best idea to consider the consequences of separate investment portfolios after marriage. Additionally, the impact and ramifications of any new jointly held assets.

The divorce rate is high.

Although the divorce rate in South Africa is low by international standards (17.6%). It is nearly one out of five marriages finish in divorce. The most vulnerable period for divorce is between the ages of five and nine years of marriage. Which regrettably coincides with the birth of young children. According to Statistics South Africa, 55.9% of divorces in 2019 involved children under 18.

Many divorces are stressful and disruptive, and in the majority of cases, both spouses suffer financial losses. The easiest method to deal with this is to put in place agreements. It ensures that the lives of children go as smoothly as possible.

Marriage rates among same-sex couples are rising.

In 2019, there were 1,771 marriages and 174 divorces among same-sex couples, according to statistics. Same-sex couples are eligible to be medical scheme dependents pension fund beneficiaries and can even consider spouses in the event of intestate succession (a right not yet accorded to heterosexual couples).

Same-sex couples, like heterosexual couples, can pick from a variety of marriage contracts to meet their specific demands and financial arrangements.

Financial Impacts of Divorce in South Africa

According to the 2019 Marriages and Divorce report by Stats SA, approximately 25,000 couples divorce in South Africa each year. Divorce is never an easy decision, and couples who choose this path have a lot of decisions to make as they settle their affairs and divide their lives in half. One of the most critical and contentious decisions is usually about money.

To reduce stress, hire a financial planner or wealth manager early in the divorce process — before a divorce agreement starts to sign in – to assist the lawyer in making joint and individual financial decisions.

When the financial arrangement of the marriage paper is not equal, it might be a stumbling block in divorce. We still notice that one spouse often relinquishes much of the financial burden to their partner during a marriage, letting them manage the money and make financial decisions. As a result, they are in the dark and have no clear image of their financial plan, overall assets, pension funds, or strategy for growing their investments as a happy couple.

At the time of a divorce, this is a significant difficulty.

According to financial expert Kim Potgieter, statistics reveal that 27 percent of women’s living standards drop the following divorce, while 10 percent of men’s grow.

Both parties must participate actively in the financial planning for the marriage. In a marriage or partnership, there are three things you must understand. These include your partner’s earnings, individual and joint investments, and a monthly budget, savings, and spending plan.

Nobody marries to be divorced, but the statistics on divorce are staggering.

The unpleasant reality is that 40% of marriages are divorced before reaching their tenth anniversary. According to the most recent statistics from Stats South Africa, 25,326 divorces were issued in South Africa in 2016.

The financial repercussions of divorce are among the most complex components of the process.

Divorce is a terrible occurrence in and of itself, and financial factors play a significant role. Therefore, people should ensure that they take the whole picture into account while assessing their financial condition and making decisions. If you get a divorce and are legally entitled to a share of your spouse’s retirement funds, think twice before considering it a “windfall” to spend. Instead, keep in mind that it was created to provide a comfortable retirement.

Money tends to take center stage during a divorce regarding future life decisions.

For starters, divorce frequently occurs in households where only one person is the breadwinner. It results in the other person needing to look for work. Because of these circumstances, divorce often coincides with difficult decisions. The decisions regarding where you will live, like purchasing a new home or renting for a while. You must consider what your retirement might be like if you used the money to buy a home. Few people are lucky enough to purchase a home. They also raise their children, sell it at a profit in the future, and then reinvest the proceeds in their retirement savings. However, putting this into action needs a great deal of discipline.

Divorced persons frequently need to save extra to cover the costs of divorce.

Whatever option you choose, be sure it is based on a holistic picture. It includes your current living expenses and your future retirement demands. Don’t try to guess how much money you’ll need in retirement; instead, have a professional financial adviser calculate it for you. The other key topic to address when you get a divorce is how to enhance your retirement provision. Especially if you intend to move into a new relationship when combining your present requirements with retirement savings.

It depends on your age. You may need to reconsider your retirement plans.

Because of your new financial reality, you may need to reconsider your entire retirement philosophy. The retirement decisions you had with your ex-spouse may no longer be viable. It is especially true if you’re going through a silver-hair divorce,’ which is becoming more common. You will require to be more cautious with your investments if you divorce later in life. People who divorce at a younger age, on the other hand, have more time to ride the markets. So, they can thus be more aggressive in their approach.

Even if money isn’t your strong suit, it’s beneficial to feel powerful when it comes to it.

Life is unpredictable. Divorce, death, pregnancy, job loss, relocation, or unanticipated bills are all examples of circumstances beyond your control that can drastically alter your life. Everyone should be financially prepared for a variety of reasons. When dealing with a divorce or separation, there is always one partner who is less financially invested and prepared (and it isn’t always the woman). At all levels of achievement, many people from all aspects of life have a detached, unattached attitude toward money, accompanied by emotional concern. And eventually, this sensation catches up with you. So, how do you financially empower yourself?

Financial empowerment entails feeling confident about your finances and prospects.

It entails being aware of where you are financially and, more importantly, where you want to go. Financial literacy and financial empowerment go hand in hand. One cannot exist without the other. Economic empowerment, on the other hand, goes beyond financial literacy. It implies that you understand how financial literacy applies to your life and circumstances. You must actively participate in, or at the very least be aware of, your and your partner’s financial decisions.

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