How Long Is Divorce Litigation

How Long Does Divorce Litigation Take in South Africa?

Divorce litigation can take anywhere from a month to several years, depending on the type of divorce you and your former partner are going through. If both parties agree to the terms and conditions, it might be granted in as little as four weeks. However, if conflict ensues and parties cannot agree on issues around child custody, shared assets, maintenance, and terms and conditions of proceedings, the process can take much longer. This will often result in hefty legal fees and extreme emotional distress for everyone involved, especially if it drags on for years. In such an instance, litigation is advisable and can assist clients in navigating the stormy waters and emerge somewhat less unscathed. Here, we explore factors that might impact the length of the proceedings and the litigation process in South Africa.

The Basics of Litigation and Contested and Uncontested Divorce in South Africa

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Divorce proceedings are instituted by one of the parties at either the High Court or the Regional Magistrate’s Court. The plaintiff (the person asking for the divorce grant) initiates the process, and a summons is delivered to the defendant by the Sheriff of the Court. The defendant must respond within ten days if they choose to oppose it. If they do not, no filing is necessary. This option requires the least litigation and is known as an uncontested divorce. Uncontested proceedings might not require litigation if both parties are on board and are happy to file documents themselves. However, it is advisable if they want to skip the admin and ensure that all legal documents are filed correctly. Uncontested proceedings are the quickest of all and result when parties are on amicable terms and in agreement. Litigation can assist parties to reach a settlement agreement since this might include terms about childcare, assets, the division of property, and custodial agreements. If there are children involved, maintenance agreements will also be determined in the same manner.

However, if one party opposes the divorce or there are severe disagreements related to assets, children, or property, the process can drag on. This is known as a contested divorce, and, here, legal support is paramount. Unfortunately, these situations can take many years if parties are unable to resolve disagreements, and this can create both financial and emotional stress for families. In such instances, both legal and psychological support is advised.

Contact Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys

With over two decades in the legal sphere, our qualified attorneys have a wealth of experience in divorce and family law. We will walk with you every step of the way, offering expert legal advice and support with sensitivity and professionalism in mind. We pride ourselves on excellent client service and honour client-attorney privileges throughout the process. If you need legal support as you navigate this complex situation, we are here to assist. Give us a call on 012 460 6359 or send us an email at We will happily answer any queries or concerns. For expert legal advice on all things relating to divorce maintenance and Family Law, get in touch with our legal experts today. With over twenty years of experience in the family legal sector, we are well-versed in South African law, working hard to ensure that our clients experience the most favourable results. We have extensive experience with divorce, inter-country matters, child law, child abduction, cohabitation, mediation, and parental alienation. Our team of experts offer clients professionalism, integrity, legal excellence, and expert advice. For more information, send us a message and we will happily get in touch.