Things to consider when considering divorce
If your marriage has broken down irretrievably and you honestly believe you and your spouse would be better off going your separate ways, you have probably reached the stage of considering divorce. But perhaps you are just feeling unhappy, bored, dissatisfied or demotivated. Every relationship goes through difficult times and it’s important to be sure there isn’t something worth saving. Sometimes a bad patch in one’s own life is attributed to the relationship, when a bit of self-reflection and self-care can solve the problem.
Many couples get as far as the divorce attorney’s office and realise they don’t actually want to get divorced after all. Sometimes this happens during mediation; at other times the process of articulating the reason for the divorce to the divorce lawyer results in a re-evaluation of the situation. At Divorce Attorney Cape Town, we are always pleased to see a couple reconciled, but your bank manager might prefer you to do that before arriving at our offices.
When you’re sure you want to divorce
You’ve asked yourself the hard questions, and you are confident that divorce is the best outcome for your situation and for your family. In that case, we’re here to support you. What’s next? And what do you need to think about?
How amicable will the divorce be?
Are you and your spouse in agreement over the need to divorce? Do you have a common view as to how assets should be divided and how your children (if you have them) should be raised? It is possible to go through the divorce process in a civil manner and make mutually acceptable arrangements regarding the big decisions…the house, the children, the savings account. In this case you may succeed in having an uncontested divorce. This is by far the most affordable option. Divorce costs can spiral out of control when the divorce is contested.
What does this mean? Well, an uncontested divorce is just what it sounds like: both partners agree on the division of assets (the marital regime will have an impact on this anyhow) and how any children of the union will be cared for, without contest or conflict. A parenting plan will be drafted as part of your divorce settlement.
By contrast, a contested divorce is one in which these key considerations are disputed. The spouses, who have become warring parties, are at loggerheads and, often out of spite or their own pain, are unable to compromise and find a way forward. The divorce attorney may recommend mediation as a means of arriving at an out-of-court settlement, but, if that fails, the case goes to trial. In these situations, it is unlikely that anyone will emerge unbattered or unbruised. The judge becomes the decision-maker, allocating assets and determining child care and contact, because the spouses are too immersed in their own pain to envisage a more dignified way out of the marriage.
Cape Town divorce lawyer SD Law strongly recommends trying to achieve an uncontested divorce wherever possible. We have seen first-hand the damage contested divorces can wreak. Unless your spouse is a multi-millionaire and you feel you are entitled to your share of their millions, perhaps because you helped them build their career while sacrificing your own ambitions (in which case we will fight tooth and nail for you), an uncontested divorce is always easier to recover and move on from.
Do you need interim maintenance?
In some divorce cases, one partner – usually but not always the woman – is financially disadvantaged by the whole divorce process. Perhaps the relationship has broken down to the extent that you have established separate households before the divorce is finalised. One partner has been responsible for daily care of the children and has foregone earning potential to fulfil this role. But two households cost more than one to sustain. If one partner is struggling financially while waiting for the decree absolute, the South African courts offer a temporary solution in the form of interim maintenance known as Rule 43. A Rule 43 application allows a non-earning spouse to receive interim maintenance when the joint household income has been dissolved. The lower- or non-earning spouse may also receive financial assistance with legal costs, allowing equal access to due process of law. We are family lawyers in Cape Town and can assist with a Rule 43 application.
We will also ensure your final maintenance settlement is fair and equitable and arrangements for child care and contact after divorce are not only in the best interests of the child but workable for both parents as well.
If you were married overseas, or if you are married to a foreign national who has now left South Africa, our international divorce specialists can help you navigate the slightly more complex waters of foreign divorce. We can also help if you were married in South Africa but are now living abroad and want to divorce through the South African courts. And while we’re on the subject of international divorce, we were delighted to learn that Ireland recently relaxed its strict requirements for divorce, reducing the time couples must live apart before divorce from four out of the five previous years to two out of three. Divorce places families under tremendous emotional strain, and can also have a financial impact. A long, drawn-out process does not encourage reconciliation; it just prolongs the pain. Fortunately, here in South Africa we do not have a similar prerequisite to divorce.
We are divorce lawyers with high EQ
At Cape Town divorce lawyer SDLAW, we will help you reach the best possible divorce settlement for your circumstances. This includes the financial arrangements and the plan for looking after the children. But we do more than that. We understand how stressful divorce is, even if it is mutually agreed and amicable. We will work with you to resolve issues in a sensitive, intuitive way that treats all parties with dignity and respect and accepts that emotions are inevitable. We know that you will need to rebuild your life after the divorce, and that’s most easily done if you haven’t been completely broken by the process.
Our unique approach is valued by our clients and has been featured in All4Women and Fin24. You can read what our clients have to say about us here.
Contact Divorce Attorney Cape Town for more information
Cape Town divorce lawyer SDLAW is an expert in divorce and family law. If you would like to discuss your divorce in confidence, contact Cape Town Divorce Attorneys on 086 099 5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.