Are You Uncertain About How the Divorce Process Works in South Africa?

We are taught a lot of things while we are in school, such as how to read, how to do math equations that most of us feel we will never use, the basics of economics, and important things that happened in history. However, we are not properly prepared for things such as how to raise a child, what proper email etiquette is, or how to navigate your way through the divorce process.

The legal system is confusing to a lot of people – arguably most – and seeing as so many marriages end in divorce nowadays, it makes sense that learning more about the legal system and how things, even the divorce process, works while in school could be beneficial. Luckily, you do not need school to teach you about this process. You can just learn straight from the experts. And no, you do not have to be an expert in law to navigate your way through the process. 

All you need to know are the basics, so that you can be sure what needs to be done and know enough to communicate clearly with your lawyers. They will be able to guide you through the rest of the process. The first step in the process in South Africa is issuing a divorce summons. This is issued to the Magistrate’s Court or your local district family court. 

There are some things that need to be included in the divorce summons and these are:

  • • A custodianship agreement of minors that the separating couple has, whether adopted or biological. The summons must include information regarding access and visitation that will be granted to the non-custodian parent. 
  • • Child and/or spousal maintenance agreements regarding total amounts owed and also when the payments will be made.
  • • A description of how the assets and liabilities will be divided. This largely depends on whether the separating couple was married in or out of community of property and on what was stated in the antenuptial contract, if one was drawn up. 


If the separating parties can come to an agreement on the above-mentioned points before issuing the divorce summons, it will make the process run a lot smoother. If the parties cannot agree, the court will be forced to decide on their behalf, which will drag out the process. Each person will need to appear in court to confirm the accuracy of what has been stated. A divorce is granted when the marriage has been found to be irretrievably broken down. The marriage is then dissolved. 

If the separation is disputed and the court has to decide whether the marriage is indeed irretrievable, the court may force the couple to seek marriage counselling before they will grant a divorce in order to see if the couple cannot work out their differences and hopefully save a lot of heartbreak – and a separation that could have been prevented. 

If you would like more information on the steps that need to be taken during the divorce process in South Africa, contact us today.