Three Things to Know About Divorce in South Africa

As of April 2021, South African divorce rates sat at 17.6 %, translating to around one in five marriages end in separation. Lockdown has been particularly tough for many couples, and the pandemic has caused a notable spike in divorce rates across the globe. This data is also true of Sweden, China, and the US. When it comes to the dissolution of marriage in South Africa, there are a few things to consider before filing for divorce. Here we break down three essential things to know before you begin the process.

Three essential things to know before you begin the divorce process

1. There are only two grounds for divorce: Thanks to amendments in the Divorce Act in 1979, there are only two grounds for divorce in South Africa, and both of these diminish the fault of one party. These two reasons are the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage (whereby both parties showcase that their relationship cannot be salvaged) and mental illness or unconsciousness. The former is an open-ended reason, serving as an umbrella for myriad issues, including adultery, abuse, financial problems, and persistent conflict.

2.There are three types: There are three types of divorce in South Africa, namely uncontested, mediated, and contested. An uncontested process is undeniably the easiest of all three. In such a situation, both parties agree on all terms regarding assets, children, maintenance, and any other important aspect. An impartial attorney might draft the legal agreements, and once both parties sign, the marriage is usually dissolved within a few weeks. Up next is a mediated divorce, which is often a slightly longer process as couples might not agree on aspects and will need to consult attorneys or mediators until an agreement is reached. Lastly is the most difficult of processes: the contested one. In this instance, the couple cannot agree to any terms, and this can drag out for many years. This can take a huge emotional toll and create a great financial burden for both parties.

3.It has to happen through the courts: The dissolution of any marriage has to be done through the courts in South Africa. Choosing the Family Court could yield quicker results. Both parties will have to attend a hearing in any proceeding, and the judge will ask pertinent questions about the application. In the event of a contested process, you might need to make many appearances at court, and stages might include pleadings, applications, the discovery of documentation, a pre-trial conference, the trial, and the final judgement. It is best to work with a professional lawyer with expertise in family law in such a situation.

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We understand the delicate and often devastating nature of divorce, and this is why we help our clients to navigate the complex struggles that often arise throughout the process. We also understand the sensitivity of the process and ensure that confidentiality is always retained. We were established in 2000 and have had a great deal of experience in all aspects of family and personal injury law. We are committed to outstanding service and strive to offer each client excellence, professionalism, and integrity in every legal matter.