DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW

At Van Heerdens Attorneys we take pride in providing our clients with specialised advice in all areas of family law. We ensure that your interests, as well as the interests of your family, are sufficiently taken care of from commencement to finalisation. Whether your divorce is amicable or not, we possess the skills necessary to guide you through it and assist you in managing the stress.

It goes without saying that, if possible, you should do your divorce in an uncontested manner. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will cooperate with one another to agree on the terms of your divorce. In this situation, both parties will usually consult with us together in order to streamline the process.  The party that institutes proceedings, known as the Plaintiff, will be the only party required to appear in court on the date of the hearing. By the time the matter gets to court, the parties will have agreed on how assets will be divided and, if there are children involved, which parent will have primary care over the children. We will draft a Settlement Agreement, which will be signed by both parties. An uncontested divorce is by far the best and least expensive way to get divorced. An uncontested divorce can be finalised within 4 to 6 weeks.
A divorce is contested when the parties cannot reach agreement regarding the division of assets, the primary care (custody) of the children, and the amount of maintenance for the children and/or spouse. In this case, the court will be requested to decide on how to deal with the issues in dispute at the trial. A contested divorce may take anywhere from a few months to a few years to conclude.
When spouses separate, the process of dividing their assets is often complex and frustrating. Regardless of your financial situation, we have the experience and understanding to advise you on what you are entitled to.
Care and contact involves a parent’s ability to spend time with their children and control the decisions made regarding their child’s care. Whether it’s through negotiation or involving the courts, we can help you to find a solution that’s in the best interests of your children.
When a child lives primarily with one parent, the other parent is responsible for making payments to assist in the child’s care. This being said, both parents have a duty to support their child according to their respective means, irrespective of whether the child is adopted, or born in or out of marriage.

Every child is entitled to reasonable maintenance for clothing, accommodation, education, medical care and recreation. ‘Reasonable’ maintenance is determined by the family’s standard of living and various other factors.

We can help make sure your children get the financial support they are entitled to.

Spousal support may be awarded if one spouse lacks sufficient property and income to meet his/her reasonable needs.  Many factors go into a maintenance determination including duration of the marriage, age of the parties, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the time needed for a spouse to get the skills necessary to find employment.

In respect of both child and spousal maintenance, when the court makes a maintenance order, the following factors are taken into account:

  • Earning power of the parties
  • Current or expected wealth of the parties
  • Ages of the parties
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living before divorce
  • Behaviour insofar as it is relevant to the breakdown of the marriage
  • Any other factor the court deems should be taken into account.

Post-Divorce Planning

We stay with you after the divorce process to help you rebuild your life.  Whether you need a financial plan, a modified Will, or information about investments, we look beyond the law to ensure that you are in a position to move forward.

Antenuptial Contracts (ANC)

The ANC will be the most important contract you and your spouse will sign in your lifetime.

In order for you and your spouse to get married out of community of property, you will need to enter into an ANC before the marriage is solemnised. Often referred to as a “Prenuptial Agreement” or “PreNup,” Antenuptial Contracts are an effective way for a couple intending to get married to make decisions regarding a number of issues in the event of dissolution of the marriage, whether by divorce or death. A carefully drafted marriage contract can save a lot of the time, stress, and costs associated with the dissolution of marriage. We can help you determine which matrimonial property regime makes sense for your particular situation and will tailor the document to ensure that it suits the needs of you and your spouse. South African law recognises three matrimonial property regimes, namely:

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements are used by people who live together and want to make plans regarding their financial relationship. We can prepare a cohabitation agreement that can minimise the difficulties and stress you’ll face in the event of separation.

Independent Legal Advice

If your spouse or partner has had a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract prepared by another lawyer it’s important that you seek independent advice before signing it. We can help you fully understand your rights and what it is that you’re agreeing to.

Other services we provide related to family law

  • The obtaining of family violence interdicts and protection orders in terms of the Prevention of Family Violence Act and the Domestic Violence Act;
  • Guardianship and custody of a minor;
  • The legal consequences of co-habitation;
  • The right to access and the obligation to pay maintenance in respect of illegitimate children;
  • Application, rescission, suspension or variation of maintenance orders;
If you have a matter which you would like to discuss, we would like to hear from you. Please contact us via telephone or email. Alternatively, please feel free to schedule an appointment.

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