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What is a Contested Divorce?

A contested divorce is when parties of a marriage cannot come to an agreement regarding the details of their divorce. Such details may include the division of assets, deciding which parent gains primary custody, deciding on a visitation agreement, maintenance, and even arguing if a partner is at fault. While South Africa operates under a “no fault” system, the details of a partner at fault could contribute in the deciding of the children’s primary residence and how assets will be divided. Often times, some mediation is required too, as parties of a broken down marriage can be very disgruntled and be very hesitant to cooperate in certain areas of the divorce process. A divorce attorney Johannesburg is necessary to handle the divorce case. Contested divorce is also very expensive and can take anything between three months to three years to finalise.

There are various stages of a contested divorce, and the assistance of a divorce attorney Johannesburg is essential. The stages of contested divorce are as follows:

  • Pleadings
  • Application for and set down of trial date
  • Discovery of documents
  • Further discovery and particulars
  • Pre-trial conference
  • Judgement

Pleadings are the formal documents in a divorce. Pleadings consist of the following documentation:

  • Summons, particulars of claims and notice of defence
  • Plea
  • Counterclaim
  • Plea to counterclaim and further pleadings

A divorce process is typically started by serving a summons. The summons will state the reason for divorce and that either one or both parties of the marriage cannot see a means for reconciliation, and under what marriage regime the marriage was entered into, and any prior agreements regarding assets and children, among other particulars. When the summons is served, the defendant may defend the action within the time frame stipulated in the summons, simply put, contest the divorce, by serving a notice of defence.

Your divorce attorney Johannesburg assists throughout the process. After serving a notice of defence, the defendant must within an allotted time frame, deliver a plea. The plea is the defendant’s defence, and he/she may deliver a counterclaim. The plaintiff will then make an application for a trial date. If the plaintiff fails to do so in an allotted time frame after the pleadings have been closed, the defendant may do so.

Between close pleadings and waiting for the trial date, the discovery of documents commences. The divorce attorney Johannesburg will assist in all the compliances and legal proceedings. Further discovery then continues, which means if one party believes the other is holding on to further recordings, documents, or other such information, it is to be disclosed. The court may at any time after the pleadings, or at the request of one or both parties, instruct an informal conference in the presence of the judicial officer in chambers, so as to consider a settlement of disputes.

Lastly is the trail, in which both parties and their divorce attorneys Johannesburg will be present. The proceedings will commence in a procedural fashion and end in the court’s judgement.

Contested divorce is one of the most problematic divorces. Many issues and disputes may arise, and a divorce attorney Johannesburg will need to assist in the entire proceedings. Unlike uncontested divorce, the defendant will appear in court with the plaintiff and utilise the services of his/her own divorce attorney Johannesburg. Contested divorce can take a long time, and be very expensive. Divorce is not easy, but contested divorce can be especially problematic. legal professionals are well experienced with difficult divorce cases and can expertly advise on options and proceedings, which will work in everyone’s best interest.

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