How to Get a Quick Divorce in South Africa

By Jessica Jewell

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The Divorce Act of 1979 deals with the laws relating to dissolution of marriage in South Africa. While the act deals with all aspects of civil marriage divorce, it does not govern divorces from customary marriages, especially within the rites and rituals of the Muslim and Hindi religions. While dissolution of civil marriages always follow the civil law, couples divorcing from customary marriages may or may not use civil law to determine grounds and procedures of divorce, though they must always follow Africa Customary Law. Your ability to get a quick divorce in South Africa depends on your type of marriage.

Live in a separate location than your spouse. There is no specific amount of time that you have to live separately, but to argue that the divorce is not fault-based but rather irretrievably broken, you will need to prove to a judge that you have been living separately for some amount of time.

Go to a local, family civil court with your partner to file for dissolution of civil marriage. If you want to get a quick divorce, you and your partner must both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and that the divorce is no fault of the other person. The process may also be much quicker if you deal with your divorce in a family court, rather than a high court. If you have been married through the rites and rituals of a Muslim or Hindu marriage, rather than a civil marriage, you do not need to go to court at all, rather appeal to the religious leaders in your community to divorce.

Prepare a signed summons that addresses the division of all marital property and minor children. For a judge to quickly dissolve a marriage, he will need to see that you and your partner have addressed the separation of all marital property and made arrangements for all minor children, including the division of property, savings, alimony, custody and child support. You and your partner will need to agree on all matters for the case to proceed quickly through the court process, rather than being held up by a lengthy trial.

Go to court on the specified date. The judge will ask you if you agree to the settlement addressed in the signed summons. If both you and your partner agree to the terms of the settlement, the judge should order the dissolution of marriage. If the marriage is a customary marriage, the judge will also have to make sure that all arrangements have been made to satisfy African custody law in terms of settlement. Specifically, the wife’s family may be ordered to return the lobola to the husband’s family, unless the husband has publicly rejected the wife without reason or cause.

About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.

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