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

Do it yourself divorce

The option is always open to a person to approach the court directly and attempt to handle his/her divorce himself/herself. In Cape Town the Southern Divorce Court is at 90 Plein Street, on the 6th floor. On attending there you would be expected to wait in a packed waiting room, and would need your marriage certificate and identity document, and if there is an Antenuptial contract you would be expected to bring that too.

You would then after a long wait be advised by officials at the court, who may or may not have any legal qualifications. A Summons will be filled in and then you would be expected to deliver it to the relevant sheriff for service. Once it is served your partner would respond to it normally, and the matter would be set down for trial eventually.

The problem however very often arises that members of the public do not know the court rules, and are incorrectly advised at the court as to what their legal options are. A person who believes that he/she will save money by doing the divorce himself/herself may end up losing hundreds of thousands of rand in the end.

If the assets are substantial, i.e. if there is a fixed property and a pension or any other assets it is definitely worth while to spend a bit of money and consult an attorney to handle the divorce. The time that would be spent at court waiting in the waiting rooms to be assisted, and time away from work, would just not be worth it at the end of the day. Parties who are represented at court are given preference to parties who are unrepresented. Your attorney would also be able to get a court date quicker than if you tried to do so yourself. The attorney would also know exactly what the magistrate requires and what should be in the court file in order to get the divorce through.

All kinds of issues can crop up in the middle of a divorce case, and it is worth while to have an attorney on your side. An example of this would be what to do if the other party enters an appearance to defend but does nothing further after that. Your attorney would then advise you to demand a plea within ten days. If however you were representing yourself, you would need to spend a day at court normally to obtain such information.

It is also a lot easier for a magistrate to make a decision on a matter if both parties have representation, as if you are unrepresented the magistrate will have to play the roll of attorney as well as judicial officer.

I have personally dealt with many cases where somebody has started divorce proceedings himself/herself, and half way through come to consult me. I very often have to start afresh, as the correct legal advise was not given to my client. I would strongly urge people to consult an attorney before a divorce.


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