What a divorce mediator wants you to know before you sign your marriage away

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Be emotionally prepared for this journey.
Be emotionally prepared for this journey.

The dreaded "D" word… 

Divorce, otherwise known as Dissolution of Marriage, is not always the only option. It may seem that way after a series of unappreciated and sometimes completely avoidable events. 

No one gets married with the intention of getting divorced, if your intentions are pure.

If you are not 100% committed to a person and everything that comes with them, marriage is not the way forward, that's the harsh truth. Nine times out of ten, the relationship will end in divorce, and that's not fair on anyone.  

However, we as Family Law Mediators, encourage our clients and potential clients to make 100% sure that divorce is what you both want and that you both tried alternative ways to resolve any conflict and rediscover yourselves as a functioning couple.

Must read: What are the grounds for divorce in South Africa? 

Follow these steps to ascertain if this is the right way forward for you: 

Step one: Decide if a divorce is truly what you want.

Step two: Discuss it with your partner – it's no secret that there is a sense of hostility in the air. Avoiding it doesn't make the problem go away.

Step three: Agree on a way forward. Family Law Mediation is not Marriage Counselling, however, it doesn't hurt anyone to approach a Mediator to talk you through the process, in order for you to make a sound decision and move forward from there. We are here to have round-table discussions to resolve as much of the conflict as possible.

Step four: If you have decided to move forward with the divorce, you need to decide if you are well equipped enough to approach your closest Magistrate court on your own or with Legal Representation. A Family Law Mediator can advise you on how best to do this on your own, but they cannot represent you in court. 

This would also depend on what marriage regime you have selected: ICOP (In Community of Property) or OCOP (Out of Community of Property), and with or without Accrual. How you wish to get divorced, Contested or Uncontested, will also make a difference to the process. 

Step five: Be emotionally prepared for this journey. Divorce is not always a quick and easy endeavour, but it can be. Contested divorces can span a few years, but until everything is settled, it is an emotional roller coaster. Get your support structure in place and find help if you need to talk to someone.

Also see: How to get a DIY divorce in South Africa

What to do when approaching a Mediator or your local Magistrates Court

First things first, you must have all your paperwork in order beforehand. 

Here is a list of required documents when opening a file for divorce:

Certified copies of:

  • Your Identity Document
  • Your Ante-Nuptial Agreement, if any
  • Children's birth certificates, if any
  • Marriage certificate

You must also have the below documents handy for ease of reference:

  • You and your spouse's full names, identity numbers, occupation, and full address
  • Details of when and where you got married
  • Details of any funds, pensions, retirement annuities and other investments 
  • Details of any joint property and other assets 

Also read: What does it cost to get divorced in South Africa?

Ensure that you have some drinking water, a pen, and a snack at hand. When going to court, there is a strong possibility that it will be a long wait. Ensure that you take the necessary time off work if need be.

Most of all try and remain calm. There will be a few moments where you feel the need to interrupt the madness to say your piece, however, your turn will come... There once was a time that you shared a life together, whatever happened to lead up to this moment, has happened. And this is all part of turning the page.

Allow the process to take place, the legal system takes a while for the wheels to turn, however, they do turn, just make sure your ducks are all in a row and that you are prepared for anything.

For more information, visit: minorimpact.gumroad.com

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