When a spouse wishes to end a marriage, he or she will institute the proceedings by serving summons on the other spouse. The other spouse can then either choose to oppose (contest) the divorce or not.

As mentioned in the previous article, there are two types of divorces in South Africa, namely uncontested/unopposed divorces and contested/opposed divorces. This article will focus on opposed/contested divorces in South Africa.

 A divorce will be contested when the spouses to the marriage cannot reach an agreement pertaining to the division of their assets; the place of permanent residence of the children; the amount of maintenance for the children and/or the spouse. In this instance, the court will be requested to decide on how these issues in dispute are to be dealt with at the trial. Important to note is that contrary to the uncontested divorce process, a contested divorce will entail a formal trial which is usually an expensive and time consuming process.   

 The contested divorce process consists of various stages which include:

  • Pleadings
  • Application for and set down of a trial date
  • Discovery of documents
  • Further discovery and particulars
  • Pre-trial conference
  • Trial
  • Judgement

 Therefore, a contested divorce is expected to take anywhere from a few months to a few years long to conclude. This can become an extremely emotionally and financially draining situation.

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