The Divorce Process

As with everything in life, no two divorces are quite the same. To try and prepare you for this new chapter in your life, we've tried to document the general steps required to complete your divorce.

These steps will vary based on whether or not you have children, own property, have vehicles and a host of other considerations. Some steps really may not be applicable to you and your partner. These steps may also happen in a slightly modified sequence depending on your unique situation.

Initial Steps

Before you really get started, there is a bit of preparation needed.

Discuss your decision to divorce
Discuss the divorce

You and your partner have to discuss the divorce open and honestly. Some things to discuss:

  • Will you be able to work together for an uncontested divorce?
  • Have you tried everything you possibly can to resolve your issues?
  • Who will go to court and ask for the divorce?
  • How will the costs of a divorce be shared or paid?
Discuss the big decisions
Discuss the big decisions

Use this outline of the divorce process to discuss the big decisions:

  • Property and living arrangements
  • Vehicles and other assets
  • Children and living arrangements

Make sure you both understand what can be negotiated and what not. This will also give you a clear idea of whether or not you can complete an uncontested divorce

Compile your budget
Create a budget and asset/liability list

You will need to make decisions on spousal maintenance, child maintenance and division of assets. These discussions require you to know how much money you and your partner have and will need when you part ways. Draw up:

  • Your current combined budget
  • Your budget after the divorce
  • Your partner's budget after the divorce
  • A list of your assets and debts

This information will help you make decisions going forward.

Divorce Agreement

Here we're going to help you out by determining what documents are needed, once determined, we'll draw up the necessary documents.

Register for your online divorce
Register at Online-divorce.co.za

For us to help you draw up the necessary documentation, we need you to register:

  • Complete your name and email address.
  • Click on the link in your email.
  • Choose a password.

That's it, you are now registered and ready to get going.

Capture your information
Information about you, your partner and your marriage

This step sets you up for all the other steps. We need all the details about your marriage as well as information on you and your partner.

As with everything you need to do, please pay particular attention to the accuracy of information provided. Always answer questions as per your source documents, for example when asked about details of your marriage, capture the information as it is printed on your marriage certificate.

Divorce property decisions
Fixed property

If you obtained properties during the marriage, this step goes about the arrangements for each property, who will retain it, will there be a settlement amount paid between the partners etc.

Some consideration needs to be given to how the bond will be settled and property transferred after the divorce. This is something for you and your partner to discuss before making any decisions, especially if the property was purchased with a joint bond.

Vehicle ownership after divorce
Vehicle ownership

This section allows you to specify who will own which vehicles after the divorce. This will include arrangements such as who will cover transfer costs and be responsible for maintenance.

How will you divide assets
Division of assets (stuff you own)

It is assumed that anything bought by an individual in his or her own name will be their property after the estate is divided.

This step lets you specify any particular items that you want to specify the ownership of.

How will you divide debts
Division of liabilities (debts)

As with assets, this section assumes that all debts belong to the person in which name the debt was made.

However this section allows the partners to specify the specific debts that should be excluded from the above statement and who will be responsible for their settlement and servicing

Other arrangements in divorce agreement
Other agreements to incorporate

We will guide you through some other considerations you need to include in your divorce agreement, such as:

  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Arrangements for moving out if living together

Parenting Plan

We'll guide you through the agreements you and your partner need to make about the upbringing and support of your children.

Provide information on your children
About your children

We'll need to find out where your children will go to school, and where they will primarily live going forward.

How will decisions be made that affect your children
Decisions on your children's upbringing

Here you need to provide input as to how your children will be brought up and how decisions will be made going forward where they impact your children.

Should decisions be made jointly, you will need to specify how you will handle disagreements.

Child support after divorce
Child support

Every parent has a responsibility to financially support their children. This deals with child support and how it will be paid.

Medical decisions and expenses
Medical decisions and expenses

How will medical decisions be made for the children? Who will be responsible for paying medical expenses and if the children must be on a medical aid, who will pay this going forward.

How and when will their other parent access the children
Access to the children

Each parent has a right to access their children. Here we will specify the access the non-primary parent will have to the children. Including visitation schedules as well as special days and holidays throughout a year.

Purchasing Agreements

Once you have completed all the necessary information, you can review the agreements online. This is also the perfect opportunity to sit with your partner and ensure that you both agree to all the terms.

Pay for the agreements in your basket
Review and purchase agreements

Once you have completed all the questionnaires, you can immediately review your agreements online.

If you are happy with their contents, purchase the agreements instantly using your preferred payment mechanism.

Download divorce documents
Download your documents

Depending on your particular case, you will be able to download the following documents:

  • Combined summons
  • Notice of set down
  • Divorce agreement
  • Divorce statistics form
  • Parenting Plan
  • Annexture A
  • Checklist and Instructions

DIY Divorce Process

If you want to complete your divorce yourself, you will need to follow the following steps. However providing your documents to an attorney to complete the court process on your behalf is also an option.

Complete your divorce documents
Complete the divorce documents

Print your documents and fill in any fields required. Then sign all the documents with your partner and witnesses present.

You will be provided with notes on how to complete this.

Make copies of divorce documents
Make copies

You will need up to 5 sets of documents to complete this process:

  • Original set - for the court file
  • Copy for Sheriff - A copy for the sheriff to serve on your partner
  • Copy for Family Advocate/Court - to register parenting plan
  • Copy for Yourself - To take to court and for your records
  • Copy for your Partner - To keep for their records
Complete your divorce documents
Certify the copies

Some of the documents in your pack will require certification, for instance the marriage certificate and ID documents.

Additionally if there are minor children, Annexture A must be signed in front of a commissioner of oaths.

Register your divorce case
Create a case

Take your originals and copies to the court, and open a case with the registrar or assistant registrar of the court.

You will be provided with a case number, write this case number on all the documents in your pack as well as the copies.

Take your documents to the sheriff
Take your documents to the sheriff

You now need to take the original as well as the sheriff's copy to the office of the sheriff to serve on your partner. If possible, phone them upfront and ask if you could bring your partner with you, so that they may serve the summons immediately.

There will be a fee for the sheriff, and once complete, the sheriff will provide you with a return of service certificate to indicate that your partner was served and the documents were explained to them.

Provide a notice of set down
Submit a notice for set down

10 Working days (or 20 working days if your partner resides in a different province) after your partner was served, you will go to the registrar or assistant registrar of the court and submit a notice for set down with the return of service certificate as well as the original summons.

This informs the court that you would like a date for a hearing in front of the magistrate. As well as confirms that your partner is aware of the case and does not intend on defending it.

Divorce court day
Your day in court

On the day of court, you need to find which room your hearing is in, this is usually on a notice board. However, if in doubt, ask the registrar for assistance.

Arrive early and sit in the public gallery until you are called. You will take an oath and then answer some questions from the magistrate. If successful, you need to find out from the registrar when you can come fetch your divorce order, usually two weeks after your court date.

Congratulations, you are now divorced.

Post Divorce

You are now divorced, however you need to do some admin.

Comply with the court order
Comply with the court order

If there were actions on you from the court order, for instance:

  • Transfer of property
  • Settlement payments

You will need to comply with the order, in order to avoid being in contempt of court.

Update your will
Update your will

With any major life event, you need to review your last will and testament in order to ensure that it reflects your current wishes.

After a divorce can be a stressful time, but it's important to make changes now before you forget to update it.

Update your policies
Update your policies and insurance

Once divorced, you need to review all your policy beneficiaries to ensure they reflect the correct beneficiaries.

It's common that insurance in a household covers the joint estate, all insurance policies also need to be reviewed.