What to Do if You are Served Divorce Papers

Being served divorce papers can be one of the most stressful things a person can go through, primarily if papers get delivered unexpectedly. The breakdown and dissolution of any marriage are devastating, and the process of divorce can take a substantial financial and emotional toll. Regardless of who served the papers, both spouses have equal rights, and no one will be seen as in the wrong. Since we have a no-fault divorce law in South Africa, it doesn’t matter who serves the papers. However, if papers are served, there are a few things that need to be done.

Here we explore them in greater detail. As they say, knowledge is power, and knowing what to do is paramount.

What to do when you're served with divorce papers

1. You will need to respond to the papers: Once received, you will have ten days to respond to the summons. If you reside in another province, you will have 20 days. You would need to respond to all of the statements, and you can make counterclaims if you wish. Not responding in time can hurt the outcome of the process and might mean that your spouse gets everything that they have asked for. It is pertinent that you read through the papers very carefully and hire an expert if you are struggling.

2. All expenditure must stop:Once the papers have been served, all spending must cease immediately. This means that you cannot move money to a different bank account or buy significant assets with personal or joint money. This also means that financial agreements and any policies have to remain as they are.

3.Hire an attorney:Divorce can be a traumatic and overwhelming process, as can navigating the legal system and the various documentation and papers that are involved. If finances allow, you should not go through the process alone, especially in the event of a divorce that might turn ugly. If you contest the divorce, do not agree to various stipulations, or issues such as child custody are at play, it is best to consult with an experienced lawyer with expertise in family law.

Explore the Options with our Team at Riëtte Oosthuizen Attorneys

Established in 2000, we have over two decades of experience in family law and all issues pertaining to it. Our team of highly skilled lawyers can support you on several important issues, including child custody, maintenance, or the division of assets or property. These issues can get heated during the divorce process and working with professionals is advised. From simple uncontested processes to trickier and more complex cases, we can help you with sensitivity, integrity, and professionalism in mind.
Divorce can be unsettling, but you do not have to do it alone. If you have been served papers and feel overwhelmed by legal jargon and the nitty-gritty of divorce, we will happily help you navigate this complicated legal maze. Send us a message here, and we will gladly get back to you about the next steps.