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What to do when receiving a Divorce Summons?

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What to do when receiving a Divorce Summons?

What to do when receiving a divorce summons?

The Summons get issued by the court and is usually the document that initiates the divorce proceedings. 

What to do when receiving a divorce summons? 

Once served with a Divorce Summons by the Sheriff of the Court, you have ten working days to decide whether or not to defend the divorce. If you opt to Defend, you must submit a Notice of Intention to Defend to the Registrar of the Court. (A copy gets served on the Plaintiff). If you do not defend the divorce, the Plaintiff will receive a Default Judgement granting them what they asked the court for in the Summons. 

Divorce brings much emotional strain. It helps to be informed about the different stages of the legal process of divorce.

This will enable you to protect and enforce your rights.

What Follows Service Of the Divorce Summons  

The Sheriff will serve the Summons on the Spouse/Defendant personally.

The Notice of intention to Defend needs to be signed by the Defendant or their legal representative.

It also needs to include the address where the Defendant will accept all further service of pleadings. You must file your Notice timeously.

Suppose your Defence is not filed within the stipulated period.

In that case, the Plaintiff may proceed with the divorce, request a date for the finalisation of the divorce on an unopposed basis, and get a Default Judgement.    

Once your Notice of Intention to Defend is served on the Plaintiff and filed in court, you may now consider appointing an attorney to assist you in preparing your Plea and Counterclaim.

Plea And Counterclaim  

There are 20 days for the Defendant to deliver their Plea after filing a Notice of Intention to Defend. The Plea constitutes the answer to the Plaintiff’s claim, which they set out in the Summons.

If you don’t know how to structure your Plea, an attorney will draft it for you, based on your instruction.

Your Plea may be accompanied by a Counterclaim, also known as the claim in reconvention. Your counterclaim states the relief/claim you seek against the Plaintiff.

This document also needs to be prepared and filed within the time stipulated above.

Failure to timeously file your Plea and Counterclaim will result in the Plaintiff serving you with a Notice of Bar.

The Notice of Bar prevents you from filing any further Pleadings in the divorce action.

Although condonable, this puts you at a disadvantage because you lose the opportunity to state your case to the court.

Further Pleadings 

You have now complied with the basic court rules, filed the necessary documentation in court, and served the Plaintiff with same.

The Plaintiff is directly responsible for driving the proceedings. They may have an opportunity to reply to your Plea, with a Plea to the Counterclaim or a Replication.

Once the Plaintiff files this, the Pleadings will then close and the discovery process will commence.

Read More:

Types Of Courts for Divorce and Family Law in South Africa

How To Commission Affidavits Remotely

Marriage in Community of Property Pros and Cons

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