Divorce in a Nutshell: How to File for Divorce in South Africa

How to File for Divorce in South Africa 

South Africa is seeing a vast increase in divorces due to many reasons. As a result, the question of how to file for divorce in South Africa arises. Despite being able to obtain a divorce order without legal representation, it is always advisable to consult with your attorney first to ensure that all necessary bases are covered. 

Regional Courts and High Courts have jurisdiction to grant divorce orders regardless of whether the divorce is opposed or unopposed. However, the process and documents provided to the public from the Regional Court is far simpler than that of the High Court. There are also many facets to consider before proceeding with a divorce. 

It has become quite simple to obtain a divorce order, especially when the divorce remains unopposed, or as many refer to it as an uncontested divorce. However, it becomes far more intricate when minor children (children under the age of 18 years) are involved. Courts will not grant a decree of divorce unless there is a Family Advocate endorsed parenting plan attached to your court papers. 

An endorsement is issued once the Family Advocate has had sight of the signed parenting plan and is of the professional opinion that the agreement between the soon-to-be ex-spouses is in the best interests of the minor children. Both parents would have to agree on with whom the minor children would have primary residence, previously known as full custody and when the other parent would exercise contact and access with the minor children. The parties would also have to agree on maintenance for the children, including which parent is required to pay more and how much maintenance is actually enough. 

Another facet to be considered is interim relief during the process of divorce. Often, in uncontested divorces, the parents would have already agreed on contact and maintenance for the minor children, however, in opposed divorce actions, the Court may be approached to grant interim relief. The interim relief must be applied for at Court and will be an interim order (temporary order) which sets out the interim contact to the children and as well as the maintenance payable during the period after summons and being issued and before the decree of divorce is granted. In very rare cases, the Court may even include the payment of a spouse’s legal costs as part of the interim relief. Interim relief is especially valuable when there is a spouse who is deliberately delaying divorce proceedings to the detriment of minor children and the plaintiff.

Further, there are certain time limits that must be adhered to with respect to currently ensuring the divorce will be heard by a Magistrate or a Judge on a certain day. Should a plaintiff be late by one hour or even one day, the matter will have to be removed and re-enrolled to be heard, adding approximately another 4 to 6 months to the process. 

Alan Levy Attorneys: Family & Divorce Attorneys in Johannesburg

Alan Levy Attorneys offer expert legal services pertaining to family law, such as divorce, antenuptial contracts and maintenance applications. If you require legal services for a family related matter, Contact Alan Levy Attorneys. Alan Levy Attorneys will guide you through the process of how to file for divorce in South Africa to ensure swift and amicable divorce proceedings. 

This article does not replace professional consultation with an attorney and is not intended as legal advice. This article should be seen as an educational summary of the applicable legislation and procedures. Should you require legal advice pertaining to divorce, Contact Alan Levy Attorneys today.

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