Understanding The Divorce Act

Understanding South Africa's Divorce Act

If you are embarking on divorce in South Africa, it is advisable to have a basic understanding of the South African Divorce Act. While your attorney will possess an in-depth knowledge of the Divorce Act and be able to advise you at every point in the process, it is always a good idea for prospective clients to understand how it all works before embarking on the process. Understanding how it all works will empower you to make the best decisions for yourself and offer you greater peace of mind.

The Grounds for a Divorce

There are many reasons why individuals might opt to end their marriage. Sometimes, the two parties simply cannot get along or have gone through experiences that have resulted in the irretrievable breakdown of the relationship. At this moment, divorce is usually the only option. Other times, medical issues might play a role. While South African Law used to work on a fault-based system – whereby one party could be blamed for the marriage ending – modern law stipulates that no party is to blame. Under our law, the following grounds apply:

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage This is an umbrella term that encapsulates several issues that might result in a marriage ending. When there is no chance of the parties reconciling, this can be cited as the grounds for the dissolution of the marriage. Causes might vary and include conflict, adultery, criminal activity, or separation for longer than a period of a year.

Mental illness: Another ground is that of mental illness. If there is medical evidence of one party experiencing mental illness for six months or more, proceedings may be instituted. Medical professionals will need to validate the claims.

Continuous unconsciousness: Finally, if one partner is in a state of continuous unconsciousness, the other party can apply for a divorce. Once again, medical evidence is necessary as well as input from two medical professionals.

Types of Divorce Proceedings

Uncontested: This is the most accessible type of proceeding since both parties agree to the process, and there is no disagreement with regard to the division of assets, terms, maintenance, and custody. These proceedings can happen in as little as four weeks and are the easiest to enact.

Mediated: These proceedings might take a little longer since former couples might need to embark on a mediation process to come to an agreement. Mediators are trained professionals who offer impartiality and help parties come to an agreement. This might, however, take some time

Contested: These proceedings are the most stressful and costly since both parties will need to go to court regularly until the court decides on the final terms. These situations might take years and usually centre around disagreements about children, assets, and finances.

Chat with the Legal Experts at Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys

If you are embarking on divorce proceedings and need legal counsel,speak with our expert team. With over two decades of experience in Family and Divorce Law, we are well equipped to walk you through each and every step of the process and ensure that you get the best outcome. We assure each client of the utmost sensitivity, respect, and professionalism.