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You Don't Need a Divorce Lawyer - DIY

25 February 2014, 12:31

Six years ago, when my ex and I decided to divorce he advised me to consult a lawyer as 'they know what they are doing.'

So I called one and was told:  "I will need a R12 000 deposit before I start the proceedings.  And, then you will have to agree on everything."

"And, if we don't?"  I asked.

"Well, then it becomes very expensive," was her reply.

After realising we could not afford to divorce, we were rescued by a good friend who advised us to go DIY, as her son did.

And, it's considerably cheaper.  The total costs were around R70, even less than for those who advertise in newspapers.

You may have to take at least three days off from work so an understanding boss is essential.

A DIY divorce is also a pre-requisite to agreeing on the division of assets.  Amicably,  my ex and I didn't nit pick over Tupperware and teaspoons and were ready earlier than expected.

The first step was to contact the Magistrate's Court in our area to make an appointment.  The 'phone was answered almost immediately by a lady who was extremely helpful.  The requirements were the mandatory ID books, marriage certificate and two revenue stamps.

We arrived for the appointment and waited a few minutes for the Clerk, who assisted us with the finer details and a 'are you sure you really want to do this?'  There were also some amusing references to past applicants which lightened the entire situation.

Armed with the documents we visited the Sheriff's Office to have the Summons issued.  No appointment was necessary.

My ex and I then treated ourselves to a Wimpy breakfast, with him asking:  "Do you really want to do this?".  Quite sad really, so be absolutely sure.

He then drove us to Johannesburg to the Central Divorce Court where we were shown the correct office.  There a polite lady with files up to her ears gave us a reference number.

This took a full day, so when it suits you and your boss, you return to the Central Court.  This is where you need to be patient.

It appears that everyone and his brother is applying to end their marriages and you may spend up to five hours shuffling along the benches.  As with Home Affairs, it is best to arrive early.  The requirements here are padkos, your laptop or a good book.  You may also chat  as you move along to pass the time.

Eventually you are issued with a trial date, usually three months hence.

On D-day, I sat next to a lawyer, who offered his assistance.  "This is a DIY, but thanks anyway," I replied.  "You have to be really careful.  They'll most probably lose your file," he said.

Which, they didn't.

Due to the overload, an additional court was opened and each matter was settled in less than ten minutes.

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