I want to get divorced as quickly as possible… what do I need to know?

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There are three different types of divorces in South Africa. (Getty Images)
There are three different types of divorces in South Africa. (Getty Images)

Getting a divorce is widely considered to be one of the most stressful and draining processes a person can go through. Even in the best-case scenario, getting a divorce isn’t necessarily a quick and easy process.

We’ve all heard stories of 'messy' divorces, which usually means that the parties involved disagree on the terms and conditions of the separation.  

"There are various factors that influence the duration and emotional impact of the divorce process- from decisions around how the children will be cared for, to how assets will be divided," says Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, Managing Director at LAW FOR ALL

The different types of divorces in South Africa:

An Uncontested Divorce

Essentially, this is the type of divorce that you hope for.

An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on the terms of their divorce and work with lawyers to resolve any issues or disagreements. This is quicker and cheaper than a contested divorce (more on this later).

If spouses settle even before a summons is issued, it will make the process much easier. Where kids are involved, a parenting plan is also necessary.

The court will want this agreement to be endorsed by the family advocate just to make sure that the best interests of the children are protected. Generally, uncontested divorces are more cost-effective, with their costs ranging from R10 000-R20 000.

A Contested Divorce

When a couple cannot agree on the terms and conditions of the divorce, this is considered to be a contested divorce, and it usually means going through a court proceeding or trial to resolve any issues, with each party employing their own lawyer. This is generally rather lengthy and expensive.

It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whose fault the divorce is and that a divorce can be granted even if one spouse doesn’t really want to get divorced.

If there are valid grounds, the court will issue a divorce order. It’s fair to say contested divorces (those which are not settled before trial) can take up to 2 - 3 years to finalise and cost between R20 000 to R40 000, if you use a private attorney.

A Mediated Divorce

A mediated divorce can be quite lengthy and pricey, as it means the couple cannot agree on the terms of the divorce and make use of a lawyer or legal mediator to assist with the negotiations. 

The legal professional will focus on assisting the couple with working through their disagreements and help them see the bigger picture, all with the goal of reaching a mutually beneficial settlement. 

Once the terms and conditions have been agreed on, the divorce lawyers involved with them draft an official settlement agreement, which will then be made an order of the court. 

"Divorces are tough on the pocket and the heart. It’s best to be prepared for any legal troubles and have a lawyer in your corner whenever you need help" Nagtegaal adds. 

Parent24's #dignifieddivorce series is here to help parents navigate the legal and emotional implications of a divorce.  

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