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

Divorce from overseas

I recently handled a case for a client where he and his wife lived in Australia, and where they also owned a property. They had however been married in South Africa, and wanted to get divorced in South Africa.

It was an acrimonious divorce for various reasons. I am based in Cape Town and was acting on behalf of the one party. My client’s wife had an attorney from Pretoria. We eventually settled the matter, and a settlement agreement was signed.

Usually in the particulars of claim to the divorce summons the attorney would make the averment that both parties are domiciled within the court’s jurisdiction. In this particular case however they weren’t domiciled in South Africa, and the other attorney and I agreed that the only way in which the Cape Town court would have jurisdiction would be if the parties consented to the jurisdiction.

I then drafted a consent which I annexed to the particulars of claim, reading as follows:

“CONSENT

1. I hereby the undersigned, consent to the Western Cape having jurisdiction in this divorce matter.
2. I consent that the final divorce order be taken by consent between the parties incorporating the settlement agreement.
3. I waive the time limits for pleadings and consent that the summons be served by the sheriff at my chosen domicilium et citandi et
executandi C/O Peter M. Baker

Dated at Melbourne on 12 April 2010”

The defendant signed the consent and returned the original to me. A further problem in the case was as to where the summons should be served on the defendant. It would be too costly for the summons to be served in Australia. As appears from the above consent the defendant also agreed that the summons could be served on my offices.

Just to cover himself we also annexed a letter signed by the defendant’s attorneys to the summons which read as follows:

“1.We confirm that we act on behalf of Ms. X and that she confirms the settlement agreement and that the divorce will be uncontested. She consents to the jurisdiction of the Western Cape family court and to the domicilium address of Peter M. Baker & Associates for service of the summons on her”.

My client flew all the way from Australia for the hearing. When I led him in evidence in court at the hearing, I pointed out to the magistrate the consent to jurisdiction which had been signed by the defendant, as well as the letter signed by her attorney consenting to Cape Town court having jurisdiction. Fortunately the court accepted our papers and the divorce was made final.

As appears from the above case, jurisdiction can be problematic at times, particularly when the parties live in a different country. It is important to use an attorney who is experienced in the area of jurisdiction and knows how it works.

After the case my client was most delighted that the divorce was granted. It had been a lengthy battle with his wife. It is always a good thing for an attorney to have a happy client.

This article was written by Cape Town divorce specialist, Peter M Baker

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