5 Tips to getting a divorce.
What entitles to a divorce?
More recently, legal experts pointed to a surge in new divorce instructions in the country since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
Family lawyers said that February and March are typically divorce filing months, however, the pandemic has caused a spike in other months amid increased job losses, and psychological effects including anxiety and depression, while couples were also forced into close proximity for extended periods of time during lockdown.
I often have clients asking me what tips I have for them when they think about getting a divorce. There are a few simple rules that you can stick to, making it easier for yourself, your family and children.
When you think of taking on something new in your life, you usually do some research and think things over a few times.
Well, it is the same with a life altering decision such as getting a divorce.
Do some research about divorces before you jump into it. Read some more on divorce here.
Tip #1: Choose your divorce attorney wisely
Do some research on the divorce attorneys that you have in mind. Make sure that they practice in matrimonial or family law. Does the firm have relevant experience? Look for an attorney that has worked on a lot of divorce cases such as yours and one that has a deep knowledge of divorce law.
Find a lawyer that you feel comfortable with, one that has your best interest at heart.
Tip #2: Be open about your finances
Divorce is also a sharing of debt, so remember to consider your debt. It might appear that there are many assets and cash, but if these are all supported by debt, you might find yourself in serious financial hardship.
Ask yourself a few questions.
Can you afford to stay in the house?
What will your needs and the needs of your children be?
What will your new life cost?
Know your assets and know your debts. Have a look at your credit score if you are able to.
If you do not have cash to cover costs, you will have to sell assets in order to do so.
Tip #3: Get organized
Get your financial documents in order, make copies of bank statements, keep record of your monthly costs and spending. Budget and try stick to it!
Plan your schedules and keep a calendar to be pro active and organized. You will need to keep track of appointments with your attorney, family advocate, court dates etc.
Get your documents needed for court in order (ID documents, marriage certificate, children birth certificates)
Tip #4: Be informed /Do research
Get educated and do your research on how the divorce process works. Make a list of questions you would like to ask your attorney. Being educated on divorce could help you understand the process better and may relieve some of the stress associated with divorce.
Think of your children, they are more than often the ones that take the most strain. Find out how you can make it easier on them and discuss these options with your attorney.
Will your divorce be contested or uncontested? This will also make a significant different in your finances.
Read more here
Tip #5: Think ahead
Before you embark on the divorce process, think carefully about what you actually really want out of it. Be clear about what you want and, more importantly, what you need.
Just because you want something doesn’t mean you have to have it. There will be things that your ex-spouse needs more than you do, and you’ll have to be prepared to consider the reasons for this and be prepared to compromise.
Think about the children, how will you share custody, what are you willing to give up?
Divorce inevitably involves compromise, it’s easier to accept certain compromises, which are usually inevitable anyway, when you can see the bigger picture.
To discuss how we can help you, you can click here or call us on 041 004 0086
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE- WHATS IS THAT?
What is an uncontested divorce?
Believe it or not 90% of the divorces we are encounter are simply two parties who just do not fight anymore and want to divorce amicably.
An uncontested divorce is one where a married couple reaches agreement on all issues, which includes the division of their assets, debts, arrangements regarding minor children and the payment of maintenance.
This can be achieved through spouses with the assistance of their legal representatives or attended mediation, or simply the parties have already reached agreement on various aspects before coming to see a divorce attorney/lawyer. An uncontested divorce is usually finalised between one to three months, depending on the complexity of issues.
Advantages of the uncontested route
An amicable approach by individuals is encouraged for various reasons, which reasons include:
The process for uncontested divorces
At Tim van Rooyen Attorneys we are specialists divorce attorneys/lawyers in Port Elizabeth we use our wealth of knowledge and experience to assist individuals reach settlement.
The agreements required in an uncontested divorce are as follows:
Once all those steps are complete, the attorney will arrange the court date for the hearing and accompany you to Court for granting of the final decree of divorce.
Why use Tim van Rooyen Attorneys for your uncontested divorce?
Although it may be tempting for you to approach the Court directly and handle your own uncontested divorce, it is strongly recommended that you consult with one of our divorce law specialists first.
Incorrect legal advice regarding the division of assets may lead to dire implications. For example unenforceability of orders pertaining to pension/provident funds and retirement annuities in instances when the wording does not comply with the strict requirements of the Pension Funds Act.
Every step of the way, we will provide the necessary legal advice to ensure full compliance with legislation as well as ensuring you get the best possible outcome. Our attorneys focus on achieving results for our clients in the most cost-effective manner.
Whether it’s assistance with mediating disputes, drafting divorce agreements or assisting with the process in Court, Tim van Rooyen Attorneys can assist you.
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The internet is so packed with useful information that we have become a nation of do-it-yourselfers determined to save time and money. While you might be able to build a backyard pool with success after viewing a quick YouTube video, there are other projects can have serious consequences if you attempt them on your own.
Handling your own legal matters is one example, and this is particularly the case with a DIY divorce. Whether spouses see eye-to-eye, are in agreement about just one thing, or can’t even get through a conversation without emotion taking over, divorce can be challenging. A DIY divorce might seem like a fast and efficient way to end your marriage, but there are many downsides to choosing this option.
Just this week I had to fix two divorce orders that do not comply with pension legislation and so the pension funds refused to payout.
The Dangers of DIY Divorce
There might be some websites that give instructions for a DIY divorce. These might be attractive options for couples anxious to end their marriage with as little cost and time investment as possible. But there are serious reasons why a DIY divorce can be a bad idea:
Lack of Expert Advice
When you handle your own divorce, you are likely to miss out on vital advice from a knowledgeable legal attorney who understands what is fair and what isn’t customary in a divorce case. There are some situations that only an experienced divorce attorney knows how to handle, such as property distribution especially when there is fixed property such as house, parenting plans: that will be endorsed by the family advocate, proper maintenance calculations, and pension legislation requirements.
For example: should you not make proper provision for how a house will be transferred to the other spouse, the conveyancing attorney will not be able to transfer the house upon conclusion of the divorce.
Filing your own divorce can be a complex process that opens you up to a variety of mistakes. If your date or fail to agree with your spouse about certain important items ( not included in your DIY settlement agreement), you may not end up with a binding agreement. A qualified divorce attorney in Port Elizabeth will ensure that your paperwork is correct and free of any mistakes that could impact your case
Divorce is already stressful enough. When you are trying to handle everything on your own, you are only adding additional headaches to your plate. Treading in unfamiliar territory can make an already difficult situation even worse. When you work with a trusted attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that he or she knows the processes.
Can Be More Costly
Going back to my example above, Ms x had to pay for her DIY divorce papers, then she had to pay again for an attorney to fix it.
While handling your own divorce might seem like a cost-effective approach, you could end up paying substantially more in the long run. If you make a mistake or fail to include something in your agreement, you could be facing a drawn-out court battle to have those matters corrected. And some terms can’t be changed, so you risk agreeing to a settlement that could be unfair.
Protect Your Interests in Divorce
If you are getting divorced in Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha, even an uncontested divorce, take immediate steps to protect your interests. Every divorce is unique and should be handled as such. Whether you have children, assets, a business, or are concerned about things like spousal maintenance, we can help.
At Tim van Rooyen & Associates, our expert divorce lawyers will explain your rights and the divorce process in language you can understand. Don’t take a chance on a DIY divorce. Contact our office today for a free consultation.
The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 provides that a parent has the following rights and responsibilities towards his/her child:
It is always the best solution for parties going through a divorce to discuss and settle the issue regarding care and contact, as well as rights and responsibilities as soon as possible. This keeps some form of normality and gives reassurance to the children that both parents are still a part of their lives. An interim order may be granted by the court during divorce proceedings regulating care and contact while the main divorce action is still pending.
Care means that one party is the primary caregiver of the minor children. This is the same as custody. Contact means the other party’s right to access to the minor children. Where the care and contact of the minor children cannot be settled upon, or to determine if it is in the best interest of the minor children, the Office of the Family Advocate has made the following recommendations regarding contact:
Contact over the Holidays
Short school holidays, depending on the child’s age and maturity, usually alternate yearly. Long school holidays are usually split in half and will alternate yearly. If the child is not able to cope with long periods away from one parent, the holiday contact time should be shortened accordingly by agreement between parties.
In addition, the agreement or court order can state that the child has the right to spend Mother’s Day with the mother and Father’s Day with the father. The minor child also has the right to spend an agreed amount of time with the mother and father on their respective birthdays should the child not be in their primary care at the time. The agreement or order should set out how the parent of alternate residence will exercise contact on the minor child’s birthday.
The agreement or court order will also normally contain a clause stating that the minor child, depending on their age and maturity, will be entitled to telephonic or video call access to the other parent when they are not with the one parent at reasonable times. Each parent is obliged to provide the other with the relevant contact details.
School Reports and Other Rights
The agreement must regulate the parents’ involvement in the minor child’s schooling. Both parents must have full access to the school and teachers and should remain involved and support the minor child’s progress at school and participation in extra-murals. The agreement or order usually contains a directive to inform the child’s school that the parents are co-holders of parental rights and therefore jointly involved in all educational issues concerning the child. Each parent will be entitled to discuss issues relating to the child directly with the teacher concerned, as well as receive school reports, assessments and notices, and attend all school-related events and extra-mural activities.
Joint decision making
Parents have to make joint decisions regarding certain issues. These will be set out in the agreement or order and usually include major decisions about contact with the child, school and tertiary education, medical and mental health issues and any decisions that are likely to significantly change the child’s living conditions or have a negative effect on his or her overall well-being. Parents need to be accommodating and should support one another in sharing the responsibility of making major decisions concerning their children.
Parents should communicate
Communication between parents is a vital aspect that should be covered in an agreement or order, as it will assist parents in meeting the minor child’s needs, prevent the minor child from a sense of worry and fear of abandonment and protect the minor child from continued parental conflict, feelings of unhappiness, and unrealistic expectations about the relationship between his or her parents.
As more than one person may hold parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the same child, each one may make decisions without the consent of the other party. This will be in circumstances where the minor child’s primary residence is with one parent, who is then entitled to make decisions about the day-to-day care and needs of the child.
Refusal to allow the other parent to exercise parental responsibilities and rights
The Children’s Act contains specific provisions that aim to prevent one parent from preventing the other parent in the exercise of rights and responsibilities. A parent should never attempt to discourage a child from contact with the other parent or alienate a child from the other parent. Any parent who refuses to allow the other parent to exercise his or her rights and responsibilities contrary to a court order or properly concluded parenting plan agreement is guilty of an offence, and will be liable on conviction to a fine or sentenced to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year. In addition, the parent with whom the child lives must notify the other parent in writing of any change to his or her residential address. Failure to do so is considered a criminal offence and is punishable by a period of imprisonment not exceeding one year.
Once these issues can be agreed upon or settled, it can be made an interim order of court while the main divorce action is still pending. Ultimately, the best interests of the children should be paramount in any consideration where they are concerned.
A South African citizen that lives overseas and who has a spouse that resides in South Africa (Port Elizabeth/ Gqeberha) can in terms of the South African Divorce Act, legally commence divorce proceedings in South Africa.
The opposite is also possible, that is, a spouse in South Africa can also divorce his or her spouse who works or lives overseas in South Africa.
In order to divorce your spouse who lives overseas you will first be required to bring an application before the divorce court in South Africa, this application is required to obtain an order for an international sheriff to serve the divorce summons internationally. This is generally a quick and easy application that does not delay the divorce proceedings, after the application is granted, a sheriff in an international jurisdiction can serve the divorce summons on your spouse that lives overseas. The normal divorce procedures then commences. Should the spouse who lives internally not defend the summons you will be able to obtain a divorce order by default.
On the other hand, if your spouse lives in South Africa, the process is easier and no special application to a court is needed. An attorney in South Africa can prepare and serve the summons in the normal way. If the divorce is opposed, the attorney can bring an application to lead your evidence through digital formats such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you will not be required to travel to South Africa.
But what if the parties are in agreement? This makes the procedure a lot more streamlined, an attorney in South Africa can draft a settlement agreement that can be signed internationally by one spouse and sent via e-mail back to the attorney in South Africa. The attorney can proceed with divorce proceedings in the usual uncontested divorce manner. This process can be so streamlined in the hands of an experienced divorce attorney that he or she should be able to finalise the divorce within six weeks.
To contact a Divorce Attorney who specialise in International Divorce cases in South Africa and who is able to finalise an uncontested international divorce in as little as 6 weeks, click the banner below.
Timothy van Rooyen Port Elizabeth Attorney, He has extensive knowledge in the industry, specialising in Divorce Law.