You may be eligible for an expat divorce

Expat divorce – From 2006 to 2015, 11,265 new permanent residents from South Africa landed in Canada, settling mostly (92%) in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. This doesn’t match the number living in the UK or Australia, but there is still a large number of adults who may be in unsuccessful relationships and who may be considering divorce in Canada.

Expat divorce Canada South Africa

If you were married in South Africa but have moved abroad, or if you were married in Canada but now reside South Africa, you may be able to get divorced through a South African family law courts. This is known as an expat divorce. Divorce in Canada through the jurisdiction of South Africa is complex and you may need to engage the services of a South African lawyer to assist you with your divorce, even if you have a divorce lawyer in Canada.


You may need an expat divorce if:

  • You are originally from South Africa but currently live in Canada and want to use the South African courts as your divorce jurisdiction
  • Your marriage took place abroad
  • You have lived outside South Africa for a number of years, have only recently returned and want to divorce here
  • You and / or your spouse are from outside South Africa, have made your home here and choose to divorce here
  • Your spouse lives outside South Africa and there may be issues in tracing them or debate about where to get divorced

There may be other circumstances where an ‘expat divorce’ or international divorce law may apply. If you have a separation agreement and / or want to file for divorce, there are complex legal issues to consider, so it is always best to take advice from a divorce lawyer experienced in international family law.


Do you have children?

South African law has recently become very complicated regarding the movement of minor children into and out of the country. If you are seeking divorce from the parent of your child, of South African or other nationality, and intend to travel to South Africa with your child or children unaccompanied by the other parent, you need to understand the legislation regarding travel with a minor child. You may need the services of a legal professional to ensure you can travel safely with your family. Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. will ensure you have all the requisite documentation and comply with all immigration requirements when travelling…before, during and after the finalisation of your divorce decree.


Simon Dippenaar & Associates Inc. – experts in family law in South Africa and beyond

We are able to offer advice on international and expat divorce issues, including how to get a divorce in Canada through the South African courts, advice on issues of jurisdiction (whether or not you are eligible for an expat divorce), as well as the international relocation of children.

If you are simultaneously making a divorce application through the Canadian courts we will work with your Canadian lawyer to ensure minimal duplication of effort and maximum efficiency.


Am I eligible to divorce under South African law?

This is the most commonly asked question by expats. The answer is determined by where you and your spouse are ‘domiciled’ and where you are habitually resident (normally live).

Domicile is a legal concept used to link an individual with a particular legal system. It takes into account where you were born as well as where you are living now and your intentions for the future. Our lawyers will be able to advise you of your options once we have assessed your circumstances. This is usually a straightforward process that can be done via a telephone or WhatsApp-call consultation.


Why divorce under South African law?

If you were married in South Africa and intend to return at a future date, it may be to your advantage to file for divorce in the South African courts rather than in Canada. We will do a case assessment and advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of both options.


Find out more

If you would like to know more about expat divorce or find out if you are eligible to divorce under South African law, contact us, giving your name, Canadian phone number or Skype address, and indicate when you are available: morning, afternoon or evening. One of our lawyers will call you back.

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