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Options or choices when getting divorced

In South Africa there are two choices in an uncontested divorce procedure and contesting a divorce.

The uncontested divorce process in contesting a divorce: From a financial stand point the uncontested divorce procedure will cost you much less and is a help for those who have some tight budget constraints. The process of an uncontested divorce is speeded up because both parties will have spent time and put some effort to reaching an agreement on division of assets, custody of the minor children, and any other issues involved. Uncontested divorces usually don’t go to trial, and are finalised quite quickly.

Usually only one spouse will hire a divorce Attorney to deal with the matter, however, the divorce Attorney cannot represent both parties. The divorce Attorney will draft and file all the necessary papers, and the client that is not contesting the divorce will sign all the necessary papers. It must be born in mind that if one spouse hires an divorce Attorney that Attorney is bound and will represent the interests of his client, and not the non-contesting spouse in any divorce procedure.

The term contested divorce or contesting a divorce can mean one of two things. Contested divorce or contesting a divorce can describe a divorce where one party is arguing the other doesn't have grounds for divorce and attempts to prevent the divorce; the divorce, itself, is being contested. More commonly, the term is used to describe the divorce process where both parties want divorce but can't agree on issues like child custody, child and spousal support and property division.

Every divorce, contested or uncontested, begins with filing a divorce petition and service of process on the spouse who didn't file the petition. If contesting a divorce, one of the divorce Attorneys may request a hearing. The hearing may be requested at the same time the divorce petition is filed or at a later date.

Depending on the case, the Attorney may request a hearing to establish temporary orders. The purpose of the temporary hearing is to establish orders that will remain in effect until the divorce is final. Contesting divorces may take months or longer to complete - life doesn't stand still during that time. Someone must care for the children, pay bills and maintains property.

Temporary orders may be entered by agreement or established at a contested hearing. If a contested hearing is necessary, both spouses will have the opportunity to present a limited amount of evidence to help the divorce court decide on how to rule on short-term issues. Temporary orders remain in effect until either the final divorce decree is entered or a party moves to modify and the judge grants that motion.

While a divorce is pending, each spouse's attorney may request discovery from the other spouse. This may include income records, deeds or titles to property, business account records, credit card bills and other spending records, proposed witness lists and almost anything else that may relate to the financial, custody, and visitation issues in a divorce case. At the same time, the court may require the parties to attend divorce mediation, custody counselling or other programs designed to help with the divorce process and prevent stress on children.

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