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Frequently Asked Questions


In most households, the standard of living drops after the divorce. The reason for this is that you used to have two incomes at your disposal to pay for the joint family expenses. However, you must now maintain your own home while your spouse maintains their own.

Consider where you are in life, post your divorce. Can you really afford to keep the luxury car and the big house, or do you need to downgrade? Prepare an actual budget and see what you can afford and what you just can’t anymore.

If you are not working, carefully consider your options, do courses and be willing to better yourself to become more employable. Start searching for a job as soon as you can.

Mix with people who are financially secure and learn from them. You can even ask one or more of them to become your Mentor.

Have confidence in yourself. Divorce can cause you to doubt yourself. Work on your self-confidence and make an ongoing effort to believe in yourself. You will always be your biggest critic, but you can also be your own source of support.

Obtain financial advice from a Financial Planner and do not leave your finances ‘up in the air’ – deal with them.

It depends on whether your divorce is opposed or unopposed. An unopposed, or uncontested, divorce takes about 4 – 6 weeks from start to finish, depending in what Court you issue your summons.

Opposed, or contested divorces can take several years to be finalised. Again, the Court that you issue your divorce summons out of will have a significant influence on how long it takes your divorce to be finalised.

In general, an opposed divorce can be finalised in a much shorter period in a Regional Court than in the High Court.

When you’re considering a divorce one of the most challenging aspects is to tell your spouse that you have decided to go ahead with a divorce. Our clients often ask us if it is necessary for them to inform their spouse, or if they can go ahead with the divorce without telling their spouse.

In short, the answer is no, you do not need to tell them, but they will naturally find out when the summons is served on them.

It usually is advisable to tell your spouse that you have decided to proceed with divorce before the summons is served on them. You can control this by selecting a time and place to tell your spouse that suits you.

The Summons must be personally served on your spouse by the Sheriff of the Court. The Sheriff cannot leave the summons at their home or office – it must be personal service.

If you do not know where to find your spouse and you want to proceed with the divorce, you can still go ahead with the divorce, the procedure is just more involved, and it takes a bit longer.

If you believe that your spouse is in the Republic of South Africa, you can proceed with an Application for Substituted Service.

If your spouse lives in another Country, you must proceed by way of Edictal Citation.

We deal in detail with Substituted Service and Edictal Citation on our website, and you can get more information on these processes by clicking on them.

South African divorce law is not fault-based. That essentially means that the assets are divided in terms of the marital regime at the time of divorce.

If you are married in community of property, only one estate exists, and you deduct the total assets and less the total liabilities to determine the value of the estate.

Should you be married in terms of an Antenuptial Agreement that includes the accrual, then the net value of both estates must be determined, and the difference is divided on the dissolution of the marriage.

An Antenuptial Agreement that excludes the accrual means that each spouse keeps his or her own possessions.

There is no one conclusive answer as to how much a Divorce Lawyer will charge for services rendered. It is very much on a case by case basis, and dependant on whether you go for a fixed fee, or a by the hour Divorce Attorney.

The norm in South Africa is that only unopposed or uncontested divorces are charged at a set cost.

Unopposed divorces are typically charged at a set fee by Attorneys, and the amounts vary between R10 000 and R20 000. Some non-Attorneys and DIY websites advertise uncontested divorces from R1000.

It is advisable to see a Divorce Attorney before you proceed with a life-changing procedure such as a divorce as it will have significant consequences on your estate and personal wellbeing going forward.

  • Inheritance – inheritances and legacies accrued during marriage.
  • Donations – received from third parties and the spouse unless otherwise agreed.
  • Fideicommissum – owner of the property wishes to have it transferred from one person to another person at a later stage.
  • Title Deed – may state it is not subject to the parameters governing the joint estate.
  • Bequests – made in a will, subject to a marital exclusion clause.
  • Delictual Liabilities
  • Delictual Damages – non-patrimonial loss but not for damages for loss of property.
  • Certain life insurance policies
  • Assets – specifically excluded from the accrual in the ANC.
  • In community of property – no additional formalities are required. Your estates will be considered as one and you will both share assets and liabilities
  • Out of community of property with accrual – a registered Antenuptial contract is required. Your estate remains separate during the marriage, only upon dissolution of the marriage, will the assets accumulated during marriage be shared.
  • Out of community of property with exclusion of accrual – a registered Antenuptial contract specifically excluding accrual is required. Your respective estates and liabilities will remain separate.

Yes, it is possible, however it is a costly process and it does not always prove to be successful. The parties may jointly:

  • Apply to court
  • Request to change the marriage regime
  • They must show sound reasons
  • They must show notice to creditors
  • They must show no prejudice to other persons
  • The actual change is affected by means of a notarial contract duly registered.

All movable and immovable property of the debtor before and after sequestration, fall within the insolvent estate. Property acquired between sequestration and rehabilitation is made available for the payment of debts. The debtor’s necessities are excluded ie, clothing, bedding, food etc.

If the existing marriage is in Community of Property both spouses receive the status of an insolvent and the joint estate is sequestrated. If the marriage is out of community of property the burden of proof lies with the solvent spouses to prove that all goods in the estate are his/hers and is to be excluded from the estate.

  • You decide how your estate will be distributed
  • You decide who will take care of your minor
  • It will avoid a lengthy probate process
  • It will minimise estate taxes
  • You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate – the executor
  • You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit.
  • You can make gifts or donations
  • Avoid greater legal challenges

Legal separation has no legal status. One can either be: Unmarried; Married; or Divorced. The process of applying for legal separation requires the assistance of an attorney to draw up separation agreements, and legalise the separation – this does not put an end to the marriage. There are four types of separation:

  • Trial separation – couple lives separately for a while. 
  • Living apart – couple lives apart for an extended period
  • Permanent separation –couple splits up and permanently lives apart but do not make it legal.
  • Legal separations – couple splits up, lives apart legally, by a court order.

Our Attorneys practice throughout South Africa.

Our Sandton office predominantly handle matters in the following Magistrate’s Courts Jurisdiction:  Randburg, Johannesburg, Boksburg, Benoni, Germiston, Benoni, Palm Ridge, Roodepoort, Pretoria, Roodepoort, and Tembisa This office also handle the High Court matters for Johannesburg and Pretoria (North Gauteng High Court and South Gauteng High Court.

The Umhlanga office is our base for work in the Durban Magistrate’s Court, Verulam Magistrate’s Court, and the Kwazulu-Natal High Court.

Our Attorneys also appear in other Courts in South Africa such, as the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court and the Cape Town High Courts.

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