Unopposed Divorce in South Africa

Unopposed Divorce

 

Do you require assistance with a quick and easy Unopposed Divorce by mutual consent where both parties are in mutual agreement and both parties are seeking an uncomplicated and uncontested dissolution of your marriage? There is always the option for a civilised and happy divorce and a divorce does not always have to be an ugly and expensive affair. 

An Unopposed Divorce (also known as an uncontested divorce or an amicable divorce) is the perfect option for a married couple where both parties want a divorce and they have agreed to all terms of their separation including but not limited to proprietary issues, maintenance (spousal and child), care and contact of minor children (if applicable), pension funds and investments, who will be the Plaintiff and Defendant etc. 

If both parties have reached an amicable agreement, be it with the assistance of a mediator through mediation or simply on their own, a settlement agreement can be drafted and this makes the entire process easy and relatively stress-free for the parties involved. 

Our specialist divorce attorney will assist such married couples, who have both decided to seek a divorce and who are prepared to settle the matter amicably and dissolve their marriage in a simple manner. 

Some parties believe that an annulment is a quicker and easier process through which to have your marriage dissolved however this is not always the case. Most parties who want their marriage annulled are surprised to find that an unopposed divorce procedure is still a much less complicated procedure and is also far quicker than an annulment. Our divorce attorney will consider the facts of your case and will advise as to the best way forward based on these facts.

Our aim is however always the same – to ensure that our client has the most straightforward divorce possible and a smooth dissolution of their marriage. Our divorce specialists try to give our clients an affordable unopposed divorce that is emotionally as well as financially stress-free. 

It is advisable that clients avoid any firms promising a “cheap divorce” or an “easy divorce” as these many times involve the clients themselves having to attend court, drive to sheriffs etc. At SDF Attorneys we strive to give our clients an affordable and inexpensive unopposed divorce without expecting them to do any of the legal work themselves. 

If it is determined that our client is the perfect candidate for an unopposed divorce, SDF Attorneys will ensure that an appropriate settlement agreement is drafted and will bring the divorce to finality in a swift manner. There is a once off fee payable for this service, which will include the initial consultation with both parties, all drafting, issuing, serving and filing required as well as all hard costs and email communications. We will also provide an advocate to represent you at court to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day and confirm the divorce as final.

Contact us today to discuss the potential dissolving of your marriage and to find out how we can assist you in making the process as comfortable and private as possible for all parties involved.

Unopposed Divorce – What is the process?

Many people are unaware or uncertain of the difference between an opposed and an unopposed divorce and are not sure which applies to them. This article aims to educate the layman a bit more regarding the difference between the two and the standard process to be followed in the case of an unopposed divorce (bearing in mind that each divorce is slightly different and may vary somewhat from what is set out below).

An unopposed divorce is a divorce where both parties have agreed to the divorce itself as well as to all aspects of the divorce (division of the estate, primary residence of the children, maintenance to be paid etc.). This is naturally then the best way of getting divorced as it is quicker, easier and less emotionally daunting than an opposed divorce (where the parties are not in agreement).

With an unopposed divorce, the parties will sign a settlement agreement which will basically set out all of the aspects of the divorce and what has been agreed between the parties in relation thereto. If there are assets to be divided, the assets must be listed (both immovable and movable) and the agreement between the parties must be clearly stipulated for each such asset.

If there are minor children involved, the settlement agreement must also include a comprehensive contact schedule for the parent who will not be exercising primary residence of the children and must ideally provide for standard contact as well as holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, special occasions and travel. The settlement agreement must also stipulate the agreed maintenance amount to be paid by the contact parent as well as when this amount will be paid and until the children reach what age. The more comprehensive the agreement, the less room there will be for confusion or misinterpretation in the future.

The settlement agreement will then be attached to the summons, which will be issued (given a case number at the relevant court) and served on the Defendant by sheriff.

The settlement agreement will also have to be sent to the relevant Office of the Family Advocate to be endorsed or approved by them, if there are minor children involved. The court will only make the settlement agreement an order of court where it has been successfully endorsed by the Office of the Family Advocate, so this is a very important step.

Once the time allowed for the Defendant to enter an appearance to defend the matter has expired (a period of 10 (ten) court days which is approximately 2 (two) weeks), the matter can then be set down on the unopposed roll for hearing. Unopposed matters are always heard on a specific day of the week and so unfortunately the Plaintiff will have to make themselves available to appear in court on that specific day. In the South Gauteng High Court, for example, unopposed matters are always heard on Fridays.

Once the matter has been successfully set down, the court file must be prepared for the hearing date. The file must be indexed and paginated and a copy of the court file bundle must be given to the attorney or advocate who will be representing the parties on the day. Your attorney will however be responsible for ensuring that all of these preparatory steps are completed well before the time.

On the hearing date, the Plaintiff will appear in court along with the attorney or advocate. The Plaintiff may be asked a few questions by the Presiding Officer however this depends on the specific judge and on how many matters there are to be heard.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, and assuming that the judge is satisfied, he or she will grant the divorce and will also order that the signed settlement agreement be made an order of court. This means that, if either party violates the agreement, they will be in contempt of court and can be fined or even imprisoned as a result.

The final divorce order will then have to be typed by the court typists and will normally be ready for collection approximately 2 (two) weeks after the order was granted. Your attorney should attend to uplifting a copy of the order and sending same to the parties for their records.

This can then be taken to the Department of Home Affairs where they will amend your marriage status from Married to Divorced.

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