How to Start the Divorce Process in South Africa

Anyone who is legally married in South Africa has the right to get a divorce if they so choose. There are two grounds for divorce in the country, irreconcilable differences being one and mental illness or continuous unconsciousness being the other. The former sees that you and your spouse can no longer make the marriage work or live together and thus encapsulates many issues without assigning blame to one party. Custom marriages or civil ones do not need to be dissolved in a court of law.

Under South African legislation, there are two types of divorce, namely contested and uncontested. In both instances, a summons must be served by the sheriff of the court.

Two types of divorce in South African Legislation.

1. Contested: Contested divorces occur when one party is not in agreement about the process, the division of assets and property, or issues pertaining to the custody of children. This situation can be drawn out and become very stressful, with some contested divorces taking many years. In such an instance, it is advised to get professional legal help. However, the process is often extremely stressful and can cost both parties a great deal financially the longer the process lasts.

2. Uncontested: This is the quickest and most cost-effective type. Both parties agree on the terms and conditions of the divorce around topics such as the division of assets, childcare, and maintenance. Such proceedings may be finalised within a few weeks if everything is in order and agreements are easily made.

Working with legal professionals is the best way to ensure that your needs are properly met, and all necessary documentation has been captured, signed and processed. In some instances, however, you can opt for a do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce. Such a process is usually only advised if the following applies:

  • The procedure is uncontested.
  • There are no complications (such as children, combined assets, or maintenance).
  • No disputes.
  • You are happy and able to work through the admin yourself without legal support or advice.
  • It is thus advised that if children, property, or other assets are in the mix, to consult a legal professional to ensure that the process is efficiently managed.

    Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys for Comprehensive Legal Advice and Support

    Contact us if you want to speak with an expert legal team with a wealth of experience in divorce and family law. We understand that divorce proceedings can be overwhelming and traumatic, and this is why we offer absolute sensitivity and confidentiality to each and every client. We will help you to navigate the complex web that is divorce and come through the other side so that you are ready to start your next chapter. While it is never easy to go through the breakdown of a marriage, working with a qualified professional can make it a more bearable process and allow you to heal. We will also do our utmost to support you in finding amicable solutions and assuring the best possible outcome for you and your family.