How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Divorce - duty to disclose financials

A divorce matter is only “ripe” to be heard once each party has provided a full and frank disclosure of their financial position to the other party. This would include pay slips, tax returns, pension details, property and business valuations, valuations of movable assets, share valuations, details on debts and/or any other financial documentation.

If a client really wants the divorce to go through as a matter of urgency, he/she should do anything in his/her power to obtain the aforementioned documentation to assist the attorney in preparing for trial. Failure to produce such documentation would merely result in postponements and additional costs being incurred. s

In terms of the court rules the attorney should before the trial serve a notice on the other side requesting them to make discovery on oath of all documents relating to any matter in question in the action (whether such matter is one arising between plaintiff and defendant or not) which are or have at any time been in the possession or control of the other party.

An attorney should also require the documents to be made available for inspection within a certain amount of days after delivery of the other party’s “Discovery Affidavit”. The high court rule dealing with discovery is “Rule 35” and the southern divorce court rule is “Rule 26”.

The aim of discovery is to shorten the trial, and afford the attorneys an opportunity before the trial to examine all documentation which would be used as evidence in that trial. The discovery affidavit would also include all correspondence between the two attorneys. Correspondence between attorney and client is however not included in the discovery affidavit as it is confidential.

If an attorney is not satisfied that the other attorney has disclosed all relevant documentation, and believes for example that certain assets had been excluded, he/she is entitled to request an additional discovery affidavit. “Discovery” is a vital part of the divorce trial, and a court will not consider hearing a matter if there has not been sufficient discovery.


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