A Guide to Surviving Divorce

Divorces are generally characterized by the absence of communication, financial insecurity, feelings of loss, and above all, high incidents of overt conflict. To make matters worse, the parties will now have to immerse themselves in legal proceedings for which they neither have the emotional appetite nor the required experience. This is your guide to Surviving Divorce.

Decisions taken during divorce proceedings will, unfortunately, have a long-lasting impact on both the parties and their children, and is it imperative that parties endeavor to make sensible and logical decisions during this difficult time.

Baartman & Du Plessis Attorneys has subsequently commissioned this informative survival guide to assist our clients in surviving their divorce. We also provide links to other important articles on the subject. Simply click on these links to read more.

Step One: Protect yourself

Keep all communication with your spouse formal yet casual, and refrain from discussing the causes for the divorce or even the divorce proceedings with him/her as it will, more often than not, lead to conflict or even domestic violence.

Never view any form of domestic violence as an exception. This occurrence tends to become habitual and will increase in intensity and may cause you and your children irreparable harm.

Contact your attorney to obtain a protection order with immediate effect if needed.

Step Two: Research

Identify the characteristic of a good family attorney and the cost and duration of divorce proceedings. Click here for more.

Familiarise yourself with at least the basic principles of litigation.

Make an appointment with your family attorney and make sure that you present him/her with a copy of your identity document, the birth certificates of all minor children, your marriage certificate, your antenuptial agreement, and financial information. Your attorney will communicate with the opposition, protect your interests, and draft all pleadings necessary to protect you and your minor children during this process.

Step Three: Assemble your Team

If the need arises, do not hesitate to make an appointment with a therapist or psychologist, and ensure that your minor children receive at least some form of therapy from a qualified person.

What issues may be addressed during divorce proceedings?

  • The primary care of the minor children, meaning that a decision will have to be made with whom the minor children will reside after the divorce;
  • The right of access by the parties to the minor children, also commonly referred to as visitation rights.
  • Maintenance in respect of child maintenance
  • Maintenance in respect of spousal maintenance
  • Division of assets of the parties, which may include their interests in pension or provident funds.
  • Interim maintenance
  • Domestic Violence

What does the division of assets or an estate entail?

In simple terms, it means that in certain circumstances the assets of parties must be divided and may include a person’s interest in a pension or provident fund. The right to share in your spouse’s estate or assets will largely depend on the matrimonial property system the parties choose to apply to their marriage when they concluded their marriage.

South Africa law provides for three different Matrimonial Property Systems being, in community of propertyout of community of property with the inclusion of the accrual system, and out of community of property with the exclusion of the accrual system. The latter two systems require the formal registration of an antenuptial agreement.

What happens to my will if I pass away?

Your spouse will not be entitled to any benefit in terms of a will for a period of three months but will become entitled to all his/her benefits thereafter. Parties to divorce proceedings should request their attorney to immediately draft a new last will and testament.

You are invited to contact Baartman & Du Plessis Attorneys for any further inquiries.