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Divorce in South Africa

While the divorce process in South Africa may be relatively straightforward, the financial and emotional consequences can be profound.

People who get married don’t want to get divorced. They go into their marriage with the highest hopes for a long, happy life together, filled with emotional closeness and someone who is going to share in the experiences of their personal life. However, the sad reality is that marriage is like a garden; you either tend to it regularly, or it experiences steady decline and “weeds” could grow and destroy your garden completely.

When couples have given their relationship their all, and they feel as though everything they have given is still not good enough to save their marriage, they can ultimately come to the conclusion that it is time to file for a divorce.

Issuing Summons for Divorce

In order to file for a divorce, you can apply for a divorce summons in either the Regional Courts or the local Magistrate's Court. Once you have applied for a divorce, the divorce summons would be served to the defendant by the sheriff of the court.

There are three types of divorce, the contested (opposed) divorce, divorce mediation and the uncontested (unopposed) divorce.

Uncontested divorces

An uncontested divorce is usually the easiest option, as it means that you and your spouse are working together to agree on the terms of your divorce. It also reduces the occurrence of a messy divorce because you can both consult the same divorce attorney, who will be unbiased and partial.

With an uncontested divorce, there is no formal trial, and only the plaintiff appears in court. You and your spouse should agree on the division of the assets prior to filing for the divorce. If there are children involved, child custody will need to be agreed to where both parties have to decide which parent will become the parent of the primary residence, and which will be the parent of the alternate residence.

With the help of the divorce attorney, the legal process of divorce will entail a settlement agreement being drafted, which is then signed by both parties, and made an order of the court.

It is obvious that an uncontested divorce will be the cheapest option for couples and cost less than the following options. 

Divorce Mediation

Divorce Mediation is preferable to a contested divorce because it has the advantage of reducing the acrimony and the associated negative emotional consequences associated with the ending of a marriage: a significant and complicated relationship.

For many couples, the emotional aspects of a legal separation can be mitigated with the use of a divorce mediator to help resolve a lack of agreement concerning the division of matrimonial property, and especially the future care, responsibility and parenting of minor children.

A trained divorce mediator has enormous experience in helping couples resolve perceived differences and reaching a divorce settlement that is in everyone's best interest.

Although this process can take longer than an unoppposed divorce, the results are worth the extra effort involved.

Contested divorces

contested divorce is when the parties to the divorce cannot reach an agreement. This process can usually last up to 3 years, making it financially and emotionally draining. However, many contested divorce cases do not go to trial and are settled before going to court.

A contested divorce consists of various steps, including:

  • pleadings
  • application for and set down of trial date
  • discovery of documents
  • further discovery and particulars
  • pre-trial conference
  • trial
  • judgment

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated - Divorce Lawyers Johannesburg | Cape Town

At Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated, we specialise in dividing marital property in the event of a divorce, calculating spousal & child support, and proposing a plan for child custody, visitation, and support.

Our professional laywers are also skilled at marriage annulments – a court procedure that dissolves a marriage and treats it as though it never happened – and spousal support, which represents regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation period or after a divorce.

Contact us for efficient assistance with your marriage annulments or divorce.