Contested Divorces in South Africa | All You Need to Know

Typically, there are two kinds of divorces in South Africa; contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both spouses agree on all issues concerning the divorce. This includes child custody, child and spousal support, and the division of marital property and debts.

A contested divorce, on the other hand, is where the spouses can’t agree on their divorce issues, in which case a judge will make the decisions for them. 

Due to the nature of contested divorces, they are considered more “difficult” because the process takes longer, up to 2 -3 years, and the legal fees are considerably higher. 

What is the legal process of a contested divorce in South Africa? 

There are various stages of contested divorces in South Africa, these include:

  • Pleadings. Pleadings narrow the disputes and provide guidance to the court on the evidence, and it allows the defendant to make a plea and counterclaims.
  • Application for and set down of a trial date.
  • Discovery of documents. This allows each party to see the documentation and other material like tape recordings the other party intends to use at trial.
  • Further discovery / particulars. Further discovery is possible if a party believes that any other relevant documents or recordings may be in the other party’s possession. 
  • Pre-trial conference. This can be requested by the court or either party and allows for an informal conference to be held to consider a settlement before the trial begins.
  • Trial
  • Judgement

Contested divorces can be costly and time-consuming, which is why it is important to work with skilled divorce attorneys who will have your best interests at heart. If you’d like to know more about our divorce attorneys, or you’d like some guidance on how to navigate a contested divorce, contact us on [email protected].