Making the right choice for your divorce can save you time and money or could cost you hundreds of thousands of Rands and years in court.
Many people do not know that they have various choices where it comes to divorce. Your choice can have a huge impact on the time and money you will spend obtaining a divorce decree. There are essentially four ways to obtain a divorce and each one offers both advantages and disadvantages. These methods include:
Total DIY Approach
You can handle your own divorce by approaching the court and filing your own documents to begin the process. The advantage of a total DIY approach is that other than your time spent at court, at the sheriff, and at the family advocate to gather all the documents you need, the divorce should cost you very little. Only the sheriff fees and perhaps petrol driving to the various offices and time spent waiting will be a cost.
The disadvantages of using the total DIY approach are that once a divorce order is made final, the costs to amend the order can be very expensive. If you are doing your own divorce, make sure you get proper advice on things like pension funds, division of assets, accrual, and spousal maintenance because if they are not included correctly in your divorce you may have to live with the consequences or pay someone to try to amend the order.
Partial DIY Approach
You can approach a mediator or a lawyer to help you reach settlement on all the aspects around your divorce and then approach the court to do your divorce yourself. This method means you get the professional advice you need regarding the important aspects that affect your divorce, and you get professionally drafted agreements which you can then use to do your divorce through the court.
It also means you save on the time the lawyer would have charged you to get the documents from the sheriff and the family advocate and to collate all these documents for your case. If you have the time to drive around and to attend to these aspects yourself then the partial divorce is an option to consider. The time spent waiting at court to see the clerk, the time spent at the sheriff to serve the documents and time spent at the family advocate to have the parenting plans endorsed can however add up, so you need to weigh up the cost of your time versus the unopposed option. You will also be appearing in court without a lawyer, and this can be intimidating for some people.
Unopposed Divorce with Legal Representation
If you do not have the time to get all the documents you need for your divorce and you would prefer that a lawyer represents you in court and gets all the documents you need, then you have the option to obtain an unopposed divorce with legal representation. In this option, a legal representative can arrange for settlement negotiations between the parties or can refer you to a mediator for settlement agreements. When a settlement is reached on the pertinent aspects of your divorce, the legal practitioner can prepare and lodge all the documents you need for your divorce.
The lawyer will be in court on the day your divorce is called and will guide you through the process in court as well as ensuring that the documents needed from the sheriff, family advocate etc. are ready for your court date. This is still a cost-effective option, and your divorce could be finalised within a few weeks depending on the court.
Your final option for a divorce is literally to fight it out in court. If parties cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, then each party can appoint their own legal representative and approach the court for a decision. This is often a very expensive route and instead of taking months it could take years for your matter to come to court to be finalised.
This should be your last resort in terms of divorce. The truth is that often, these cases settle on the steps of the court, just before trial and sadly the costs can escalate to hundreds of thousands of rands, and time wasted.
At Family Law and Mediation, we offer a free 30-minute consultation to see which option bests suits your situation, needs and requirements. Call us on 082 888 3223 to discuss your family law requirements.