Family Law

Family ties are generally the strongest, the most private and the most enduring relationships in modern South African society. As we are all aware, however, these relationships are rarely free from conflict. When domestic issues cannot be solved within the home, family law seeks to restore order and provide a fair resolution for all parties involved, ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals are properly protected and catered for.

Many people believe that family law equates to divorce proceedings. In reality however, divorce is just one element of family law, which covers a broad array of domestic issues.

Domestic Issues Include

  • Interim Maintenance
  • International Divorce
  • Parental Rights
  • Parental Alienation
  • Adoption
  • Cohabitation & Living Together
  • Children of Unmarried Parents
  • Parental Rights & Responsibilities
  • Contact (Care / Guardianship)
  • Divorce & Its Financial Consequences
  • Child Maintenance
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Domestic Violence & Abuse
  • Ante Nuptial Contracts
  • Abduction

Why Choose Us

When legal action is required to resolve these personal family matters, it is essential that you entrust your most private concerns to a compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable family law attorney who is prepared to go above and beyond to protect your rights. Our dedicated family law team are well placed to assist you during these complex times.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Are you or someone you know being subjected to verbal, physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse at home?

We are here for support and to help you with obtaining a protection order.

MAINTENANCE

We offer professional assistance to help you with getting back maintenance owed.

Are you just not coming out on the amount of maintenance you get each month?

Have your circumstances changed and you can no longer afford your current maintenance obligations?

We are here to help.

COHABITATION

Not wanting to get married but still want some security and protection in the event of a break-up?

We can draft your cohabitation agreements.

Should you wish to separate, we can help with the financial and other consequences to make the process as smooth as possible.

DIVORCE

This can be a confusing and emotional time – we offer sound, affordable advice to help you know your rights and get the process moving quickly, to save you time and money.

PARENTAL RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITES

Do you have a parenting plan in place that needs to be changed?

Would you like to set out your rights and responsibilities – we can draft a parenting plan for you to ensure contact, maintenance and residence are covered.

POST DIVORCE DISPUTES

Issues with your current arrangements in respect of residence and contact? Still waiting for performance of the terms of your settlement? We can assist you to enforce the arrangements or negotiate new terms.

UNMARRIED PARENTS

Do you want to know what rights you have in respect of your children even though you were never married? What responsibilities do you have in regard to maintenance and care? We can answer all those questions.

RELOCATION

Looking to emigrate and take your children from a previous relationship? We can help with the process and give you the information needed.

MEDIATION

Any dispute or divorce is capable of mediation to avoid high costs and time delays. We have a qualified mediator who can assist both parties to come to a mutually agreed solution with less acrimony.

FAQs

How does it work to get a Divorce?

Only a Court of law can divorce a person as it affects status. You or your lawyer will follow the process through either the Regional or High Court.

What is the procedure or process for instituting a Divorce?

One party (Plaintiff) needs to issue summons (sue) the other party (Defendant) for a divorce. This is done by combined summons. If you are not represented, you can get the relevant form from the Regional Court in the area you live or work. Otherwise, your attorney will draft this.
An annexure A is required to be completed and signed in front of a commissioner of oaths if you have minor children. A Stats form needs to be completed. These can be completed by either party.
This is then issued by court and served personally on the Defendant by the Sheriff.

How long does it take for a Divorce to be finalised?

If the Divorce is not defended it can take about 8/10 weeks, if it is defended it may take 3 years to get to trial.
Once the Court has heard evidence by the Plaintiff on the date allocated or the trial is complete, the divorce is final and the Divorce Order will be at Court for collection within 2 weeks.

How long does it take for the Sheriff to serve someone?

The Sheriff will serve on the address given in the summons during working hours within 2 weeks after they receive the documents, provided they are not told to serve urgently or at another address and the Defendant needs to be present in person to accept.

What do we need to prove to get a Divorce?

You need to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that there is no chance of reconciling. South Africa has a no fault divorce system, so someone does not need to be blamed or do something wrong. Adultery is not a crime in South Africa.

What does community of property mean?

In community of property both parties share in all assets and liabilities equally and the estate id divided equally regardless of who owns more or owes more or who had more before the marriage. This is the default system in South Africa if no contract is entered into before marriage.

What does Accrual mean?

Accrual is the sharing of the assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage. A marriage is subject to accrual if the parties signed an Antenuptial contract (ANC) before they were married. The starting value written in the ANC needs to be adjusted to current money value and deducted off the current estate of each party before the balance is divided. Any property excluded in the ANC is excluded in the Divorce.

RELOCATION

Looking to emigrate and take your children from a previous relationship? We can help with the process and give you the information needed.

How much does it cost to get divorced?

The Court does not charge you but you need to pay the Sheriff’s fees and pay for copies of the documents.
If you have a lawyer, they will charge you and if an Advocate appears there will be another charge.

What happens if you get served with divorce papers?

You have 10 business days (2 weeks) to enter an appearance to defend if you do not agree with what is being asked for by the other party. You then file a plea saying why you don’t agree and a counterclaim asking for what you want within 20 business days of the appearance to defend.
If you are happy with the terms in the summons, then you do nothing and the divorce will be set down as an unopposed divorce by the other party. You do not need to be in Court as the Defendant.

What is the quickest and cheapest way to get divorced?

If both of you agree beforehand on the issues such as property, money and children then you can sign a settlement agreement, with or without a parenting plan and issue summons based on those documents and their terms.

What is a settlement agreement?

A settlement agreement deals with property, whether movable or immovable, money and pension funds. It is signed by both parties.

What is a parenting plan?

If you have children under 18 years old together, this document deals with who the children live with, how often the other parent sees them and when, who pays for the educational and medical and living expenses of the children.

Who is the Family Advocate?

The Family Advocate’s office has to approve all arrangements in respect of children under 18 years old. They look at the summons and settlement agreement or parenting plan and endorse this or if they are concerned, they will request an enquiry. At the enquiry both parents and the children are interviewed and they report on their recommendations.

How long does it take to get a court date for an unopposed/undefended divorce?

It can take between 3/8 weeks to get a date after the matter is settled depending on the backlog at the Court and which Court, Regional, or High Court.

Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?

No, you can do it all yourself. The best option is to approach the Regional Court at the Magistrate’s Court in the area where you live or work and they will help you.

What can I do if I want a lawyer but can’t afford one?

You can approach the Legal Aid Board, your local University Law Clinic, the law practitioner’s council in your area or probono.org.

What is my spouse says they won’t give me a divorce?

A person can dispute the terms of the divorce as far as property and children arrangements but not that the marriage has broken down. The Court will decide if the marriage has broken down and if one of you has asked for a divorce, this is most often a sign.

What can I do to get maintenance while waiting for the Divorce to go through?

In the High Court, a Rule 43 application is brought for maintenance for yourself and any children and for arrangements in regard to where children live and how often they see the children and a contribution to your legal costs.

In the Regional court, this is a Rule 58 application.

Alternatively, you can go to the Maintenance Court in the Magistrate’s Court in your area.

What if there is domestic abuse?

The Domestic Violence Court at the Magistrate’s Court in your area will assist with getting protection orders.

Let us help you!

If you need any help, please feel free to contact us.

Call : +27 31 035 1055

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