Going Through the Divorce Process in South Africa 

In South Africa, getting a divorce could either be a swift and easy process or a very drawn-out and complicated one. Either way, it can take a very long time. Gain an understanding of the fundamentals of South African legal separation, such as the distinctions between uncontested and disputed divorces and the process of mediation.

Find out the fundamentals of how the system operates, regardless of whether you want a quick divorce that you handle on your own or are going through a difficult divorce that requires mediation.

The Percentage of People Who Get Divorced in South Africa

In South Africa, the divorce rate went up by 5% between 2012 and 2016, while the marriage rate went down during the same period. This is a result of a rise in the number of couples who choose to reside together but opt out of getting married.

Instructions for Obtaining a Divorce in South Africa

In South Africa, the dissolution of a marriage must take place in court. It will be necessary for you to provide evidence that you and your partner are unable to continue living together and that your differences cannot be resolved. The following are examples of valid grounds for ending a marriage in the eyes of the law:

  • Adultery
  • Abuse

You haven’t stayed together in a long time/one partner has left the other. The couple doesn’t love each other anymore One partner has been hospitalized for a mental disorder for a minimum of two years without showing any sign of recovery

The Requirements That Must Be Met to Obtain a Divorce in South Africa

You are required to provide evidence that you have resolved each of the following issues to meet the requirements for getting a divorce:

Who will have legal responsibility for the children

First, before the divorce can move forward, the parties need to reach an agreement on the custody and visitation schedules. If the court determines that a parent being able to see the child isn’t in the child’s best interests, the court has the power to restrict access for either parent.

How maintenance payments will be made

An order will be issued by the court confirming who is responsible for what. If the two parties are unable to agree on payment transactions, then the court will decide for them.

Handling the property

When a couple of divorces, the assets, and debts of the marriage are typically divided down the middle unless the couple had a prenuptial agreement to the contrary. However, this is not always the case; rules are subject to change over time, and the separation of assets is determined by the legal environment in which you were when you got married.

Your partner has 10 days (or 20 if they are in a different province) to reply to the divorce summons that you have provided once you have handed it to them. When filing for divorce, you’ll need the following things:

  • Specifics regarding your wedding, including the time and place of the ceremony, are required.
  • Your name and home address details
  • Specifics regarding any children
  • Reasons to get a divorce
  • A divorce in South Africa that is not disputed.

If both parties are in agreement about the divorce and can come to an agreement about child custody and financial matters, the process moves along quickly. Divorces that are not contested take the least amount of time and money to finalize. They require both parties to collaborate with the same legal counsel to agree. After that, the court will consider this agreement.

Self-help Divorce and Separation Applications Are Now Available in South Africa

It may not always be necessary to involve a lawyer in the divorce process. You can obtain the necessary forms from the magistrate courts in your area or utilize an internet divorce provider to complete what is colloquially referred to as a “do it yourself” divorce.

This method is appropriate for straightforward and uncontested cases. These scenarios include a couple that has been married for a short period or one in which there are no disagreements. The conclusion of this type of divorce can be reached in as little as 4 to 6 weeks.

Divorces Granted by Default in South Africa

It is referred to as a default divorce when one person serves a summons on the other and the other partner does not respond to the summons. Even though some couples do end up divorcing by default, it is usually in your best interest to inquire of your partner as to the reason why they have not responded. They might try to stall the process in the future by asserting that the documents weren’t delivered properly or by offering a plausible explanation for why they haven’t responded to the demands made of them.

Hearings Regarding Divorces in South Africa

Before your divorce can be finalized, you will be required to appear in court for a hearing. During this hearing, the judge will question you to confirm the details of your application. If you take your case to a family court instead of a state supreme court, your application may be processed more quickly and at a lower cost.

Contentious divorces

If you and your partner are unable to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, or if one of you chooses to dispute the rationale for the divorce, the next step is to have a contested divorce, which is the next step in the process but can be a significantly more drawn-out process.

The South African Legal System for Divorce

Divorces that are contested require the parties to appear in court and progress through several stages, which are as follows:

  • Asserts the details regarding the divorce summons and the defense, and allows the defendant to enter a plea and make any counterclaims. Pleadings
  • Submission of a request for a trial date and setting of the date – The spouse who is filing for divorce submits an application to the court requesting a trial date, which the court then selects.
  • Disclosure of documents The parties are required to formally disclose all of the paperwork that will be used as evidence, and the opposing party must be allowed to read them before the trial.

Additional discovery and particulars: If any of the parties believes that the other party needs to disclose more relevant documents, then that party can request those documents.

Pre-trial Conference

Before the start of the trial, the court or either party may request that a conference be held to discuss the possibility of settling. It is possible to seek the assistance of a mediator to assist you in solving with your spouse through mediation.

A mediator works with the parties involved to help them reach an agreement regarding child custody and the division of assets. They can write up the settlement agreement for you. During the divorce proceeding, you are required to provide the court with a copy of the agreement.