Couples do not get married with the idea of getting divorced later. To make a relationship work is however hard work and the reality is that more and more couples are getting divorced in South Africa.

Of course, to end a marriage is not as simple as breaking up the relationship and going separate ways, it is a legal process that must be approved by our courts.

As a divorce changes the legal status of a person only the High Court or a Regional Divorce Court can grant a divorce order.

To start the process one spouse must serve a divorce summons on the other spouse personally via the sheriff of the court. This is a legal document that informs the one spouse that the other spouse has initiated divorce proceedings, it sets out the reasons why a divorce is requested, what is being asked for, it sets out the arrangements with regards to care, contact and maintenance for any minor children and the summons also informs the other spouse what his or her rights are with regards to the divorce process.

As soon as the party that is on the receiving end is served with the summons, he/she has 10 business days to defend the summons if he/she does not agree with the proposals in the summons. After the summons is defended the party on the receiving end of the summons will have 20 business days to answer to the allegations in the summons in the form of a plea. If the spouses can agree to what is contained in the summons they can enter into a settlement agreement which will then be made an order of court.

If the summons is ignored by the party receiving it the divorce can still proceed and a divorce order can still be granted by the court.

If parties who are getting divorced discuss same before a divorce summons is issued and settle most of the material aspects in the marriage, a settlement agreement can be entered into and such settlement agreement can be made an order of court. This will ensure that the divorce process is finalized as smoothly and as speedily as possible.

An undefended divorce and a divorce which is settled usually takes no more than a few months to finalize depending on the circumstances of the case whereas a defended divorce where the parties cannot reach a settlement can take years to finalize.

There are a few aspects that needs to be considered when contemplating a divorce:

  1. Care and contact with minor children;
  2. Maintenance for minor children;
  3. Maintenance for spouses;
  4. Dividing property

Contact our offices to speak to one of our friendly divorce attorneys should you require any assistance regarding an ongoing or pending divorce.