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What is Contested Divorce?<

According to divorce law South Africa, contested divorce is when parties of marriage cannot come to an agreement in divorce. Commonly, one spouse, the plaintiff, will serve a divorce summons on his/her partner, the defendant, and the defendant will then have a designated time frame in which he/she can oppose the divorce. In other words, defend the claim as stated in the summons. The defendant will have the opportunity to counterclaim. Worst case scenario, the plaintiff will contest the counterclaim. This will be a dispute between the married couple, and their divorce attorneys and other professionals, such as psychologists or child welfare professionals, may get involved too to determine what scenario will work in the best interest of all parties involved, especially children. Divorce law South Africa makes provisions for all scenarios, but contested divorce is the most expensive type of divorce and can take years to settle.

Round-table meetings are usually conducted soon after the summons was served. Each party’s attorney will informally exchange the financial information of each of the parties and then meet on an agreed upon date with the married couple present to settle the divorce. A settlement agreement is then drafted and the plaintiff will then appear in court to get the settlement agreement made an order of the court.

In these round-table meetings, as well as throughout the whole proceedings of the divorce, each of the married parties are entitled to an attorney. At any point throughout the entire process the married couple can meet, along with their attorneys, and enter into negotiations. These are referred to as round table negotiations.

Contested divorce commonly consists of seven stages. Divorce law South Africa insists on divorce resulting in as little disruption as possible and so make provisions for difficult divorces. The seven stages of contested divorce are as follows:

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

Pleadings are the formal documents in a divorce. Pleadings consist of the following documentation:

  • Summons, particulars of claims and notice of defence
  • Plea
  • Counterclaim
  • Plea to counterclaim and further pleadings.

As with every divorce, under divorce law South Africa, a divorce action must start with a divorce summons. If the divorce is contested/opposed, the above mentioned steps will be taken to proceed with the divorce and reach a settlement which is in the best interest of all parties involved. Each step of divorce law South Africa is carefully acted on and guided by legal professionals. The married couple’s individual lawyers will also investigate every element of the divorce case to ensure the best outcome is reached. There are various steps in divorce law South Africa to ensure that all information is brought forwards.

Unlike uncontested divorce, contested divorce can be a tricky to deal with. Divorce law South Africa paves the path to ensure the proceedings move in a fairly smooth manner and make provisions to investigate delicate situations to ensure the best outcome, especially where children are involved.

It is not always possible, but where parties of marriage are willing to negotiate, uncontested divorce should be considered. It is a far less complicated process and saves on time and money. According to divorce law South Africa, and experienced divorce attorneys, uncontested divorce can be concluded in as little as six weeks. Contested divorce can take up to three years.

The complications in contested divorce can be monumental, and in some instances some mediation and other professional services may be required. Divorce is a hard process to get through, but contested divorce can be especially difficult.

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