Do you own Divorce (DIY) No lawyers needed!
If you want to get divorced from your spouse, I strongly advise that your approach a legal practitioner, or an attorney to attend to it on your behalf. This I would implore even more under the following circumstances:
- There will be a dispute over care and visitation rights over the child/children
- One of the parties will be applying for forfeiture of patrimonial benefits from a marriage in community of property;
- The joint estate is huge or complicated; or
- The other party will be making use of legal representation.
If, however, you would like to know the general procedures on how to go about a divorce, they are listed summarily below. There are many rules that regulate divorce processes and the summary below does exclude certain of them. These include exceptions, strikeouts, compelling compliance, service addresses etc. Other matters incidental to divorce proceedings, e.g. interim arrangements, pending the divorce regarding maintenance for you or your children and care and contact regarding children are not dealt with. Therefore, please consult a legal practitioner or the divorce court throughout your divorce process should you decide to do the divorce yourself.
Summons and Particulars of Claim
A summons needs to be drafted which will be issued by the divorce court to commence the divorce process. It should have on it the details of the court you will be issuing divorce, details of the parties, e.g. names, occupation, and address etc. Every High Court in the area where you live has the authority to attend to a divorce. There are however specialized divorce courts that may attend to a divorce as well.
You should then draft particulars of claim, outlining relevant matters concerning the marriage, children, reasons for wanting a divorce and what do you want the court to grant you in a divorce order. These particulars of claim you attach to the summons. Here is an example of a summons and particulars of claim for a divorce for a couple married in community of property with no children getting a divorce in the High Court in Cape Town.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF South Africa CASE NO.:
(Western Cape High Court, Cape Town)
In the matter between:
John Smith (Plaintiff)
Jane Smith (Defendant)
To the Sheriff or his/her Deputy
Jane Smith (hereinafter referred to as the defendant an adult female, self-employed as a singer currently residing at 12 Club Road, Waterfront, Western Cape and whose full and further particulars are unknown,
John Smith (hereafter referred to as the plaintiff), an adult male self-employed painter residing at Garden Road, Cape Town, Western Cape,
Hereby institutes an action against her in which action the Plaintiff claims the relief and on the grounds set out in the particulars annexed hereto marked A.
INFORM the Defendant further that if she disputes the claim and wishes to defend the action she shall
(a) within 10 (TEN) days after the service upon her of this Summons, file with the Registrar of this Court at Kieron Street, Cape Town a notice of her intention to defend, and serve a copy thereof on the Plaintiff, on which notice shall be given an address (not being a post office or poste restante) referred to in Rule 19(3) for the service upon the Defendant of all notices and documents in the action; and
(b) thereafter, and within 21 (TWENTY-ONE) court days after the filing and serving such notice of intention to defend as aforesaid, file with the Registrar and serve upon the Plaintiff a Plea, Exception, Notice to strike out, with or without a counterclaim.
INFORM the Defendant further that if she fails to file and serve notice as aforesaid, judgment as claimed may be given against her without further notice to her, or if having filed and served such notice, she fails to plead, except, make application to strike out or counterclaim, judgment may be given against her.
INFORM the Defendant also that if she does not intend to defend the action, she will inform the Registrar in writing to enable the Registrar to, on request in writing from Plaintiff, immediately set the matter down for hearing.
AND IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER serve on the Defendant a copy of this
Summons and return same with whatsoever you have done thereupon.
DATED AT CAPE TOWN ON THIS ____ THE DAY OF _________2018.
REGISTRAR OF THE HIGH COURT
Plaintiff in Person
Particulars of Claim “A”
Plaintiff is John Smith, an adult male Bus Driver, residing at no. 5 Truck Apartments, Cape Town, Western Cape.
The defendant is Jane Smith (born Smit) an adult female, employed as a hairdresser, residing at Hectic House, 2 Main Road, Strand, Western Cape.
Plaintiff and Defendant (hereafter referred to together as “the Parties”) married each other on 10 August 2003 at Pretoria, in community of property and the marriage still subsists. Kindly find attached hereto a copy of the marriage certificate marked “MC”.
The Parties are domiciled within the area of jurisdiction of this honourable court.
There are no children born out of the marriage.
(C) Irretrievable breakdown
The marriage between the Parties has irretrievably broken down and there are no reasonable prospects of the restoration of a normal marital relationship between them in that:
Defendant left the common home approximately 2 years ago;
There is no love and affection, understanding and communication between the parties;
The Parties are incompatible and continue arguing; and
Plaintiff has a gambling problem.
WHEREFORE Plaintiff prays for Judgement against Defendant in the following terms:
A decree of divorce;
Each party retain the property in his or her possession as his or her sole property;
Cost if this action is opposed; and
Further and/ or alternative relief.
DATED AT CAPE TOWN ON THIS THE ______ DAY OF______ 2018.
Per: John Smith (Plaintiff in Person)
Once you have your summons and particulars of claim in order, make three (3) copies of your set of documents and have it issued at court.
Issuing & Service of Summons
Once you are at the court, go to the clerk of the court and have your documents issued.
The clerk will sign the summons and provide a case number and write it on the summons.
You should then take the original and a copy (both must be signed and stamped by the clerk of the court) and take it to the sheriff which serves documents where your spouse works of lives. You can ask the clerk of the court for that details.
The extra—copy of the summons & particulars of claim you keep for your file and records.
Notice of intention to defend
Once the sheriff has served the documents, your spouse has a defined period to inform your whether he or she will be defending the divorce. This information is outlined in the summons as shown above.
Plea to particulars of claim
Once you received notice of your spouse’s intention to defend the divorce, about a months later, your spouse or their attorney will serve and file a plea.
The plea will outline which parts of your particulars of claim your spouse agrees (or disagree) with which would give a direction of what to prove in court.
Your spouse might want to file a counterclaim. In the same way, which you outlined your case as to what you want from the court and the reasons therefore in your particulars of claim, your spouse can file on your as well a counterclaim.
A counterclaim might still be filed if your spouse agrees to a divorce, by maybe wants care of the children, but in your particulars of claim, you asked for care.
You should then within 10 (ten) days plead to the counterclaim the same manner in which your spouse pleaded to your particulars of claim.
Obtaining a Trial date
Once you received the plea, without a counterclaim, or have pleaded to your spouse’s counterclaim, you should then approach the clerk of the court for a trial date. This you or your spouse may do.
While you waiting for a trial date, and way before the trial, you may ask or may be asked to provide, under oath, a schedule of books and documents in your possession and under your control relating to the divorce. This could be policy documents, deeds etc, and which you or your spouse might want to make use of at trial.
Once you received this schedule you may inspect and request copies of the documents.
Divorce day / Trial
If your spouse does not defend the divorce within the time period, go back to court and ask for an unopposed divorce date and attend to your divorce on that date.
If, however, your divorce is defended, a trial will ensure. During the trial, each party will prove his or her case. Witnesses will be called and at the end, the Magistrate or Judge will deliver the verdict.
Best of luck, and please, don’t take my word, contact a legal practitioner should you decide to get divorced.
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