The divorce process in South Africa is fairly straightforward, but it can have profound financial and emotional implications.
An action for divorce shall be initiated by issuing a summons. You may divorce either at the Magistrate Court District Court, which has jurisdiction over your region or at the High Court. You need to issue a Summons to begin the divorce process. A divorce summons must personally be on the defendant by the sheriff.
There are usually two forms of divorces, the divorce being opposed or unopposed. An unoppsed divorce easier and the more cost-effective for the parties. An unopposed divorce can be finalised within 4 weeks where as an opposed divorce can take years to finalise.
Unopposed divorce is the quickest and most cost effective way to get divorces. An unopposed divorce is when you and your partner work together and agree on the terms of the divorce by way of a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement contains the division of the assets, children’s primary residence, care and contact, maintenance and any other relevant information unique to your divorce. Both Parties must sign the settlement and same must also be endorsed by the family advocate if children are involved. On the day of the divorce there will be no formal trial and only one party will need to appear in court which is usually the Plaintiff in the divorce. The Plaintiff will be asked a serious of questions by their legal practitioner and if the court is satisfied that there is no prospects of restoring the marriage a divorce will be granted.
A contested divorce consists of several stages and it is a lengthy process.
Notice to Defend
Plea and Counterclaim
Reply to counterclaim
These are all the essential processes in an opposed divorce and hence why same can take several years to finalise. This is the most expensive form of Divorce.
A default divorce is similar to an unopposed divorce. When you serve a divorce summons on your partner and he / she does not respond, a court must grant a divorce by default in terms of the served summons delivered to the Defendant