Frequently asked questions

Simple answers to frequently asked questions

Can I change the name of my family trust?
Amendment of trust name
If you want to amend the name of your trust you must lodge the following with the Master:
• An application to amend supported by the founder, trustees and beneficiaries;
• A proper Deed of Amendment;
• The original letter of appointment.

Can I get access to information on trusts?
If you want information on a registered trust:
• Your application must be in writing and should include reasons;
• On application of a person other than a trustee of that trust, his surety or representative, the Master will exercise his discretion as to whether or not he will disclose the information sought.
Q  Does it help to enter into a life-partnership agreement so that my same-sex partner (a foreign national) may qualify for permanent residence in South Africa?
A  Your life partner can qualify for a relative’s permit. A life partner / spouse is deemed to be a relative for purposes of immigration legislation.   If approved these permits are in fact issued for a year at a time after which the foreign national has to apply afresh for a new permit.  The idea is to allow the Department to check that you are still a couple.    There is no minimum term for the relationship to qualify for same.  But if he wishes to apply for permanent residence on the strength of the relationship, the relationship has to be at least five years old.  If you enter into a civil union, the Department resets the clock and you have to run up another five years before he qualifies for PR.   He can also qualify fairly easily for permission to take up employment.  The employer does not need to first show that he/she/it could not find a South African to fill the post.  The key requirement to get the necessary permit endorsement is an offer of employment.

Q I was declared insolvent in 2000 and would like to be rehabilitated. Can you please send me information on how this is done?

Q What legal steps can you take if your spouse fails to pay maintenance?
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Q Is a grandparent entitled to access to a grandchild?
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Q What are your rights if you are stopped at a roadblock and the traffic/metro police determine that you have not paid outstanding traffic fines and that there is a warrant out for your arrest?
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Q I am married to a South African and want to get a divorce. We were married in South Africa about 4 years ago and have been separated for 2½ years. We now both live in New Zealand and have agreed on the terms and conditions of our divorce. Can a South African Court divorce us?
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Q If I am married in community of property, is it possible to change to another form of marriage contract?
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What is the effect of a South African couple getting married overseas?
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Q Can I divorce my spouse if he or she lives overseas or has disappeared?
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Please explain what the rights are of a parent who has joint custody of a child as opposed to one that has sole custody.
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Q I live in a sectional title townhouse complex. My neighbour feeds birds once a day that attracts pigeons that roost in our eaves and mess all over our roof. Is this a problem I must tackle with my neighbour or can I call upon the body corporate to sort it out?
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Q The actions of my neighbour are interfering with my enjoyment of my property. What are the general principals applying to the doctrine of nuisance?
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Q My ex has taken my small child to live with her parents in Spain without my permission. What are my rights?
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Q If my debt is more than 3 years old can I still be blacklisted?
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Q My husband and I find ourselves in financial difficulty due to the fact that our bond has increased by R1 000,00 per month due to the interest rate increase. If we request ourselves to be placed under administration, how would this affect our bond?  We live in constant fear of losing our house.

A If you put yourself under administration that will only affect payments to general creditors. It will not apply to the bank that holds the mortgage and the lease on your car (if any). You will still have to pay the amounts due to the banks in full.

If you are concerned about losing your house you should make an appointment to see the bank to explain your financial difficulties. They should be more than willing to extend the term of the loan (to reduce the monthly payments).  You must definitely not wait for the bank to call you when you fall into arrears.


In terms of the law, what is the legal position for visitation rights? The baby is 3 months old and there is currently no relationship between the parents. The father wants to apply for visitation rights.

A I assume that the child was born out of wedlock. The father (or his legal representative) should contact the mother suggesting a meeting of the parties to discuss what is in the best interests of the baby.

At the meeting you will have to agree on a roadmap going forward. In this regard I have posted an article on my website that deals with parenting plans. This will give you a very good idea of what the parties should agree to. In addition, you should agree on how much maintenance he will pay for the child.

I would be happy to facilitate the meeting and put the agreement together. This could and should be made an order of court.

If either party is not prepared to meet or if the meeting is unsuccessful then the father will have to apply to court to enforce his rights. Obviously, this should be avoided as it will only involve the parties in huge legal costs and, more importantly, it will heighten the tension between mom and dad.


Q I’m a divorcee with two boys who visit their dad every second weekend. He drinks and is an unfit parent. I am concerned for their safety what can I do? Who can help? What will it cost?

A I would suggest that a social worker becomes involved. She would interview all the interested parties and make a recommendation as to whether or not your ex-husband should continue to have contact with the children and whether such contact should be supervised.

The trick is to get your ex-husband to agree (which he is unlikely to do). You may want to deny him access to the kids and write him a letter suggesting that unless he agrees to an investigation he will not see the kids again. It will then be up to him to go to court to enforce his rights. At that time the court will direct that the family advocate must investigate what is in the best interests of the children.

I make these suggestions as you appear to be strapped for funds. There are no attorneys that will act for you without adequate cover and for this type of matter (especially if it becomes opposed) you will be looking at thousands of Rands in legal costs.

You could also try to phone the Family Advocate. Normally they can only become involved at the direction of the court but they may have some suggestions for you: (011) 333-3724

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