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
  • trial
  • judgement

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.

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