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Divorce in South Africa

The unfortunate reality of life is that relationships rise and fall every day, that is just one aspect of life. This is true for family, friends, lovers, and spouses. And relationships fall apart for so many reasons. The love has faded over time, differences of opinion, affairs, dishonesty, and so much more. It is always difficult to end a relationship, no matter how long it has been. But sometimes we cannot avoid a large, complex battle. That is the unfortunate truth, and many lives may be forever altered because someone’s relationship does not work. Thankfully there are people out there who help us, and guide us through these more complicated situations.

South African Law

Unless you have experienced a divorce and its proceedings first hand, or you have studied law it might be a bit of a mystery as to how things work. Each country has its own laws and regulations when it comes to divorce, South Africa is no different. In South African law, it has been said in the Divorce Act 70 of 1979 that a court may accept as evidence of the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage:

  • The parties have not lived together as husband and wife for a continued period of at least one year immediately prior to the date issuing summons for divorce.
  • The defendant has committed adultery and the plaintiff finds it irreconcilable with a continued marriage relationship.
  • The defendant was declared a habitual criminal and is undergoing imprisonment.

The Types of Divorce

In South Africa there are generally two different types of divorce, 1) uncontested / unopposed – which is finalised in about 4 weeks and 2) contested / opposed divorce – which is far more complex and could take up to 3 years. This gets more complicated if there are children involved. And the best practice is to always do what is best for the children. You could experience mediation in a contested divorce to organise assets and agreements in a respectable manner.

The Steps in a Divorce

An uncontested divorce is much simpler can could be done online if you’re willing to do all the admin that is involved, otherwise you would expect some mediation and team work with your spouse and your shared lawyer. The parties will agree on the terms of the ending of their marriage and dividing of their estate. The plaintiff will then appear in court with the settlement agreement. It is simple, and the least expensive route of divorce.

A contested divorce will consist of pleadings, application for and set down of trial date, discovery of documents, further discovery and particulars, pre-trial conference, trial, judgment. This is exceptionally costly and lengthy, and very time consuming.

Dreyer Engelbrecht

Divorce can be an overwhelming and difficult experience. Contact Dreyer Engelbrecht for any assistance in a divorce or mediation, as well as we are able to assist in various other legal matters such as family law, estate planning, expungement, debt collection, contracts and more.

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