A more accurate sense of assets will come to light if the divorce is contested, as parties are required to disclose any information to do with their financial affairs, such as assets and liabilities, and all financial information spanning a period of three years or more, including bank statements, credit card statements, etc. Some of the things you will need to obtain include:
- proof of your spouse’s earnings. This will be of significant importance where there are claims for child maintenance and/or spousal support, and it will also be relevant to determine a party’s ‘means and obligations’. The best proof of someone’s earnings will be a salary advice slip. Another could be a copy of his/her employment contract, which normally will have details of any bonuses payable;
- copies of your spouse’s tax returns or IRP5s. These will give a good indication of your spouse’s yearly income;
- copies of any relevant applications for finance or for a lease agreement that will contain information about the applicant’s income. Such documents may be obtained by way of a subpoena to the relevant financial institution. The information given is normally under oath and can be used as evidence of earnings;
- copies of financial statements of a company or close corporation in cases where your spouse is self-employed, for the purpose of determining your spouse’s income;
- copies of your spouse’s bank and credit card statements. Bank statements will enable you to verify the inflow of funds into his/her accounts and to see how the money was being spent. All accounts must be disclosed, so if your spouse conducts an account under the name of a third party or alias, that account will still be under his/her control and will have to be disclosed. Credit card statements will show your spouse’s spending capacity.
- copies of bank statements in cases where your spouse conducts business through a company or close corporation. In all probability, these accounts will be under your spouse’s control if he/she has signing power;
- the rights, title and interest of your spouse’s insurance policy. These will provide information on the extent of the available assets and the value of the estate. The cash or surrender value of all policies owned by your spouse will be included in the net value of his/her estate at the date of divorce;
- copies of all documentation relating to your spouse’s retirement fund. If you are married in community of property, you will be entitled to 50 per cent of the interest in a retirement fund. If you are married out of community of property with the accrual, the values of both your retirement funds must be taken into account to determine the value of each of your individual estates. Documentation relating to pension funds and retirement funds are therefore of utmost importance;
- copies of all short-term insurance policies. These will give an indication of your spouse’s movable and immovable assets;
- copies of proof of purchases. Contributions made towards common household expenses are relevant in order to determine both your needs, and will also play a role in the redistribution of assets for parties married out of community of property before 1 November 1984. The same applies for contributions made to bigger assets like immovable property, such as when one spouse purchases a house or car and registers it in the other spouse’s name;
- a schedule of assets and liabilities of both parties. Obtain the most recent valuations in respect of movable and immovable property;
- a copy of your antenuptial contract if you are married out of community of property, or else a record of you marital regime if you are not. Your marital regime will determine how the assets will be divided upon divorce; and
- a list of your monthly income and expenses as they stand at the moment. State whether you will be living on your own, with or without children. Keep all till slips of grocery purchases and any other general monthly expenses.