This is one of the most emotionally and financially disruptive experiences you can endure. Divorce can either be fought, or negotiated. If you choose to fight, it can ruin your health, your finances and relationships. The disruption can echo forward, through the generations.
Alternatively, you can choose to take the ‘High Road’ of Dignified Divorce. Our team of professionals is here to help. We can guide you in devising a strategy to achieve a dignified departure that will minimise the damage.
Grounds for divorce in South Africa
The grounds for divorce in South Africa do not necessarily involve accusing one another of misbehaviour – we have ‘no fault’ divorce. There are, broadly, two grounds for divorce in South Africa –
The court can grant a decree of divorce if it is satisfied that the marriage has in fact reached the point of no return. It can do so, even where one of the spouses insists that there is still a chance; if one of the spouses is adamant that the marriage has broken down beyond any hope of restoration, it is over.
In terms of the Divorce Act of 1979, the court will be satisfied with evidence of any one of the following –
Alternatively, where clear evidence of one of the above grounds is absent, the court will accept a range of different grounds such as the abuse of either of the parties or their children by the defendant, consumption of alcohol or other dependence-producing substances, frequent acts of disrespect, frequent and irreconcilable arguments, or any other convincing reasons why the plaintiff wishes to terminate the marriage. We frequently explain that the spouses have grown apart and have agreed that the marriage has come to an end.
Divorce – the legal procedure
A divorce can only be officially ended by way of an appropriate court order. So, it is essential that a summons be issued through the court (there is often a choice of courts) and served on the defendant. Don’t know where the defendant is? We have often made application for the service of a summons for divorce in other ways, including service on a close relative known to have ongoing contact with the missing spouse, or via publication in a newspaper or even via e-mail. It all depends on the evidence we can produce to satisfy the courts that proper notice has been given to the defendant, that an order is to be sought.
Divorce – the main issues
The main issues that lead to conflict between divorcing spouses, include –
Divorce settlement procedures
Most lawyers are familiar with only one approach – the adversarial route. This can lead to animosity, delays and huge expense. We will fight in the courts where necessary, but we employ other tools of dispute resolution, too – negotiation and mediation skills, which ensure speed, fairness, satisfaction (often absent from court decisions) and the saving of expenses and relationships. We refer to this as the ‘Dignified Divorce Option’.
We represent people who live, or whose spouses live, in countries all over the world. We often have to serve papers in other countries and we frequently negotiate with lawyers in other lands. We even have to apply the laws of other lands, in divorces resolved in South Africa.