SPECIALIST CONTESTED DIVORCE LAWYERS
WHAT IS A CONTESTED DIVORCE?
A contested or opposed divorce means that you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement regarding how to end your marriage or the terms and conditions of your divorce. Contested divorces can drag on for years, causing emotional draining and financial loss to all involved.
A contested divorce can take between two to five years to finalise, although most divorces get settled long before going to trial. In South Africa, a marriage can be dissolved even when one of the parties does not wish to get a divorce and this can happen if one party believes that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship and that no reasonable prospects exist of restoring the relationship.
WHAT IS THE CONTESTED DIVORCE PROCESS IN SOUTH AFRICA?
Steps that need to be taken in a contested divorce are as follows:
- Summons will be issued and served on the Defendant by the Plaintiff;
- The Defendant will have to serve and file his/her Notice of Intention to Defend;
- The Defendant has 20 days to serve their plea. The Defendant must either deny or admit all the material facts alleged in the Particulars of Claim and must clearly state the nature and grounds of their defence. Should the Defendant fail to deliver their plea, the Plaintiff may deliver a Notice of Bar wherein the Defendant is awarded 5 days in which do serve and file his/her Plea. If the Defendant fails to do so it will result in the case being set down without further notice to the Defendant and judgment will be taken without consideration of the Defendant’s case;
- If the Defendant has a counterclaim, they must deliver a counterclaim together with their plea.
- If the Plaintiff intends to defend the counterclaim, the Plaintiff must deliver a plea to the counterclaim within 10 days. Once this is done the pleading are closed;
- Once pleading are closed, the parties will deliver their discovery documents. This is where each party demands to see the documentation and other materials that they would like to use at the trial;
- Before obtaining a trial date, a pre-trial conference will be held. This is a semi-informal conference that will be conducted by the presiding officer in order to narrow the issues in dispute;
- Once a pre-trial conference has been held, the Plaintiff will apply for a trial date. The Registrar will allocate a date and the Plaintiff will proceed to set the matter down for hearing;
- The trial proceedings will then take place where each legal representatives is given an opportunity to address their case and present necessary evidence in support thereof;
- Judgment will be handed down by the presiding officer. This order can include a cost order if such order is requested and motivated by the successful party.
TOP LEGAL REPRESENTATION FROM DIVORCE ATTORNEYS THAT SPECIALISE IN OPPOSED/CONTESTED DIVORCE
Contested divorces can be very complicated especially when there are minor children and/or large asset values involved.
The important aspect when deciding to get divorced is the fact that you must feel comfortable with the family law attorney you elect. You must trust, respect and be aware of the experience the chosen attorney has to take your case to trial in a contested divorce.
Choose Burger Huyser Attorneys’ Contested Divorce Lawyers as we have gained vast experience in dealing with contested divorce matters over the years. We pride ourselves on delivering a discreet and confidential service, whilst gently guiding you through the challenging waters of divorce and related matrimonial matters.