The divorce process
As with any other action, divorce action is instituted by way of issuing summons. Summons must be served on the Defendant personally.
A court will have jurisdiction in a divorce action if one or both parties are:
- domiciled in the area of jurisdiction of the court on the date on which the action is instituted; or
- ordinarily resident in the area of jurisdiction of the court on the date on which 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.
If the divorce is contested, the various stages of the litigation process will ensue. This entails the following:
- pleadings (Summons, Plea and/or Counter Claim)
- application for trial date and set down of trial date
- discovery of documents
- pre-trial conference
It may become necessary during the contested divorce process to engage the services of various experts, which may include:
- child-care experts, to determine which parent the children should live with;
- forensic accountants, to examine the couple’s assets;
- industrial psychologists, to determine a spouse’s employability for maintenance purposes; and
- actuaries, to determine the amount and duration of maintenance contributions to the children and/or the spouse.