What does it cost to get divorced in South Africa?

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"A senior attorney with many years of experience and who specializes in family law, usually charges between R2000 and R3000 per hour."
"A senior attorney with many years of experience and who specializes in family law, usually charges between R2000 and R3000 per hour."

Raising a family together is hard work, and sometimes marriage and relationships don't survive. But splitting up when there are kids involved is even harder.

And if it's the cost that is holding you back, here's some sound advice from legal expert, Deborah Di Siena of Di Siena Attorneys in Johannesburg.

Whether a divorce is contested or not, it is a stressful experience and the costs involved can run into the hundreds of thousands of rands.

An uncontested divorce is where the parties work together to agree on divorce terms, often with both parties working with the same attorney.

Contested vs mediated divorce

The cost mostly depends on the complexity of the divorce settlement agreement, including issues surrounding the division of the assets and the maintenance of minor children.

Where a couple works together to finalise these kinds of issues and a settlement is reached, the divorce can cost anything between R 7 000.00 and R 10 000.00.

A contested divorce is far more expensive. This is where the parties cannot agree to the terms of their divorce. It can cost hundreds of thousands of rands.

If the issues are complex or the parties involved are simply stubborn, the costs can run into the millions. It can (and often does) take more than two years to get to court.

Costs in a divorce will also depend on the attorney you appoint. A senior attorney with many years of experience and who specializes in family law, usually charges between R2000 and R3000 per hour.

In most cases, you will also need an advocate and they charge similar hourly rates. Other factors which will increase your costs in a contested divorce are court hearings which take place before you even get to trial, such as applications for maintenance for children and protection orders where there has been domestic violence.

The appointment of an expert to determine the values of the assets of the parties will also increase the costs substantially. 

One of the best ways to avoid these costs (and put the money to better use) is through mediation.

This is where both parties work with a mediator (usually an attorney) to settle all the issues. The mediator usually assists in drafting a settlement agreement which is then made a court order when the divorce is granted.

For more information on mediated divorce, see Thinking of splitting up? Ask your lawyer about Rule 41 first.

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

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