There are essentially 3 types of divorce in South Africa.
The types of divorce procedure profoundly affects the practical matters of:
- How long the divorce procedure will take to finalise
- How much the divorce procedure will cost
Divorce is one of the most powerfully stressful experiences that humans can experience. It has a profound impact on the mental, emotional and physical and physiological well being of all family members.
The 3 types of divorce in South Africa has an even more profound impact on:
- The emotional stress and strain that family members will endure
- The reduction in physical and mental wellbeing resulting from emotional stress
- How quickly and how effectively family members will be able to heal the emotional trauma so they can build a happy and successful new future
The longer and more contentious the divorce process, the greater the negative impact on the family’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Type 1: Uncontested divorce
This is the quickest and least expensive option and minimizes emotional stress to family members.
In an uncontested divorce the spouses work together to agree divorce terms. This includes maintenance, how to divide their assets, how their children will be cared for, and other important decisions.
An impartial attorney can be consulted and appointed by both spouses to take care of their interests and draft the official settlement agreement, which is signed by both spouses and then made an order of the court.
Uncontested divorce proceedings may be finalized in a matter of weeks.
Type 2: Mediated divorce
Mediated divorces cost more and take longer, and subject family members to higher levels of emotional stress.
In this type of divorce couples who are unable to agree a divorce settlement employ the services of an attorney and /or professional mediator to help them negotiate and reach agreement.
Mediators are impartial trained professionals skilled in helping couples set aside their short-term differences and focus on reaching a reasonable settlement that will allow them to move on and build a great new future. In most cases mediators are appointed by the attorney who provides legal advice during mediation.
Once the mediator successfully helps the spouses to reach agreement, their attorney or attorneys can draft the official settlement agreement, which is signed by both spouses and then made an order of the court.
Mediation can dramatically reduce the cost of contested divorce proceedings. Mediated divorces are often finalized in three months.
Type 3: Contested divorce
Contested divorces can drag on for years, and can cause great emotional and financial harm to all family members.
Contested divorces occur when spouses cannot agree to the terms and conditions of their divorce. The most common disagreements relate to maintenance, division of assets and child care. In some cases one or both spouses refuse to settle for emotional reasons.
In a contested divorce both spouses appear in court repeatedly, and the court decides the terms of their divorce. This can result in very high legal costs and severe emotional damage, and may take three years or longer to resolve.
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Author – Jenna Phillips