For better or worse: The financial impact of divorce (part 1)

I know very few people who enter into holy matrimony with the view to get divorced. Marriage is often entered into with a positive outlook and big dreams for the future with hardly any consideration of the potential for things going pear-shaped. The reality is that divorce is more prevalent than ever before, not just in South Africa but internationally too.

According to Stats SA, 44,4% of the divorces registered in 2016, were of marriages that lasted less than 10 years. 31,7% of the black African group, 25,4% of coloureds, 25,0% of whites and 22,4% of Indian/Asian couples who divorced had marriages that lasted between five and nine years.

Because of this, you have to get into marriage, not only with rose tinted glasses, but also with a plan that will leave both parties financially stable, in the event of a split. Not terribly romantic but realistic and absolutely vital.

I met a really interesting young lady recently who got divorced in 2018. Bontle, a 38-year-old woman from Soweto, spoke to me candidly about her experience and its effects on her finances. She has agreed to share some of her learnings and reflections about her finances pre ,during and post her marriage over the next few weeks, in the hopes that it will help many women like her juggling money and life.

Her background is similar many of ours – she’s the first of three girls in her family with two very hard-working parents who did the best they could under very difficult circumstances. Her mom, like many black mothers, was part of a stokvel where she diligently saved money throughout the year for home improvements and other luxuries over the December festive period. Her dad worked his way up in financial services where he learned about saving and investing and managed to build a comfortable nest egg for their retirement. Ironically, with all this information they had, neither of her parents ever discussed money openly with Bontle and her sisters.

This is our story.

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