A Guide to Divorce in South Africa
This guide is designed to assist you in obtaining a decree of divorce in a Regional Court in South Africa. It gives general information only and does not take the place of legal advice. Obviously, it also cannot provide specific advice about your divorce only a lawyer can do that (and help you to protect all of your rights).
Use of this guide for self-help should be limited to uncontested divorces where there are no contentious or complicated issues regarding the children, division of the property (or debts), maintenance or pension. In any case where a divorce is or becomes contested or any complications arise (particularly with regard to any of the above), it may be best to have a lawyer represent you in your divorce. Where this guide goes beyond the scope of the uncontested, simple and uncontentious divorce, it is merely to provide you with information and understanding as to the general process and what steps your attorney is likely to take and should not be used to attempt to do these things without legal assistance — much like you would not operate on your own body from a book but might want to understand what is going to happen.
Before you approach the Court to start divorce proceedings, you will should get certified copies of as many of the following documents as you can:
- Your identity document
- Your Ante-Nuptial Agreement, if any
- The children’s births certificates, if any and
- Your marriage certificate
- Your full names, surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
- Your spouse’s full names, surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
- Date when you got married and where the marriage took place
- Childrens’ full names, surnames, identity numbers and
- Comprehensive details of any funds (such as pension funds, retirement annuities and provident funds) which you or your spouse belong to.
- domiciled in the area of jurisdiction of the Court on the date on which the action is instituted (meaning the place you consider your permanent home is located inside the area of jurisdiction of the Court) or
- ordinarily resident in the area of jurisdiction of the court on the date the action is instituted and has / have been ordinarily resident in South Africa for a period of not less than one year immediately prior to that date
TIP: It is NOT recommended that you approach any High Court without a legal representative.
To institute legal proceedings in the High Court is more expensive than instituting legal proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court (Regional Court).
A Registrar is a person at the Court that assists with the administration such as the issuing and filling of court documents.
You will also have complete a statistics form at the Court.
All the forms will be available at Court for you to complete. If you are uncertain how to complete the form then ask the Registrar to assist you. In any event, the Court will have to issue the summons.
If you are unsure if your permanent home falls within a Court’s area of jurisdiction, phone the Registrar of that Court to find out
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