Where Can I Turn When My Marriage Crashes and Burns?
Not everything in the world is unbreakable, and the same goes for a marriage. The day may come when you are faced with a divorce, and the first thing you will need is a proper divorce lawyer – one that knows family law and can guide you through what can be a very difficult process. Establishing the grounds of divorce is as important as anything else in a situation like this. Ensuring that you have the right lawyer on your side will automatically help. There are two main categories to a divorce regarding the legal aspects of it all. Let’s have a look at these options.
The first and best option is an uncontested divorce. This type of divorce is where you and your spouse work together to come to an agreement on all the matters regarding your divorce. Both parties will be consulting the same attorney or lawyer, without any formal trial. In this case, only the plaintiff needs to appear in court, as the defendant will already have settled their affairs with the plaintiff. These affairs refer to all assets being divided between the two parties, including child custody in the sense of a primary and alternative residence. The divorce lawyer will then present both parties with a settlement agreement, which both parties will sign, making things easy for the court. This is by far the fastest and most cost-effective way to go.
Should you file for divorce and serve a divorce summons on your spouse without receiving a response from them, the court will grant you a default divorce. This is also a form of an uncontested divorce, as one party’s absence from court results in “no contention” towards the plaintiff. In this case, the plaintiff must prepare a summons to present to court – it is highly advised that the plaintiff’s lawyer assist them with it. The court then serves the summons on the absent defendant, specifying the number of days in which the defendant can respond with a notice of intention to defend it – in other words, contest the divorce. Should there be no response yet again from the defendant, the plaintiff is free to proceed with the divorce and conclude the case by default.
A contested divorce is where things get serious in the court room, as both parties will fight for their marital rights, assets, and custody over their children in a court of law. This process involves a couple of steps, and you will most certainly need one of the best divorce lawyers to guide you and fight for your best interests. Firstly, all the pleadings need to be drawn up and presented. This includes summons, claims, counterclaims and pleas. It also includes a notice of defence, if your spouse filed for divorce first. This is followed by an application for a trial date, which would then be set.
During the time before the trial starts, your divorce lawyer will prepare your case. This is also the time for discovery of documents and particulars. Parties may demand to see the evidence that is intended to be used against them in the trial, as South African law doesn’t allow documents being presented in trial without the consent of the judge or magistrate.
A pre-trial conference may be requested by the court before the actual trial starts. This would be an informal conference to consider a settlement of disputes between the two parties. Should a settlement not be reached, the case would then move onto trial, which will lead to an eventual judgement on the divorce and all assets thereof.
In both cases of a contested and uncontested divorce, you will need a divorce lawyer that has a fantastic understanding of the law in South Africa regarding divorce and all related matters. You will need a lawyer that has your best interests at heart, and can build a strong and solid case for you that will hold up in court. Savage Hurter Attorneys is here to help you through this process with professional lawyers that can handle your divorce. Contact us today for any enquiries and we will take care of all your legal needs.
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