A divorce action is instituted by the issuing of a summons. You can divorce in either the Regional Court of the Magistrate Court having jurisdiction in your area or in the High Court. To start the divorce process you need to serve a Summons. A divorce summons is unique in that it must be served personally on the defendant by the sheriff of the court.
A court has jurisdiction in a divorce action if one or both parties are:
There are typically two types of divorces, the contested or opposed divorce and the uncontested or unopposed. The latter type of divorce is the best and most cost effective for all parties concerned. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in as little as 4 weeks. If a divorce is contested it may take between 2 - 3 years, but most contested divorces do settle long before they go on trial.
In South Africa, the marital regime of the parties determines how the assets will be divided upon dissolution of the marriage, the assets being those at the time of the divorce. In South Africa, we have a ‘no fault’ system of divorce, meaning that a divorce will be granted if one of the parties believes that there has been an ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship’ and that there are no reasonable prospects of restoring it. Therefore, a marriage can be dissolved even if one of the parties does not wish to get divorced.
Civil marriages, civil unions and those religious marriages conducted by registered marriage officers can only be dissolved by order of the court. The spouse wishing to end the marriage must issue a summons against the other spouse, stating that the relationship has broken down, that there is no reasonable prospect of restoring the relationship and which matrimonial property regime governs the marriage. The summons must make provision for the division of the estate, either stating that the parties have entered into a prior agreement or asking the court to divide the joint estate or enforce the provisions of the ANC. Parties must also set out what the arrangements are with regards to any children born or adopted during the marriage to edit.
Getting divorced is never easy, please feel free to consult with us to see how we can help you through this difficult time.
Timothy van Rooyen Port Elizabeth Attorney, He has extensive knowledge in the industry, specialising in Divorce Law.
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