My spouse said that he/she won’t ‘give me a divorce’. What can I do? Your spouse can oppose the divorce, but it is the Court that grants a divorce, not your spouse. If the Court is convinced that the marital relationship has irretrievably broken down, the Court can grant a decree of divorce even if your spouse does not want to get divorced.
There is a process, called a ‘rule 43’ application, whereby you can ask the Court to grant an order regarding the interim contact to the minor children and maintenance pending the finalisation of the divorce. You can also seek an order for a contribution towards your legal costs, pending the finalisation of the divorce.
What costs are involved?
In the case of an unopposed divorce (i.e. there is no dispute between yourself and your spouse about the divorce or what should happen), your fees will include the drafting of a summons, a settlement agreement, attending Court, consultations and counsel fees. Other expenses incurred may include Sheriff’s fees, traveling costs and admin such as photocopies. Where a divorce is opposed, the costs become unpredictable and entirely dependent on the specifics of the case, the disputes, and the amount of time dedicated to the matter.
How long does it take?
Where a divorce is unopposed and there are no complications or children involved, it can sometimes be finalised in as little as two to three months.
Where a divorce is opposed, it can easily take two to three years, or more. In most cases, however, divorces get settled before the parties have to go to Court – even where the divorce started out as an opposed divorce. As soon as the parties in an opposed divorce reach a settlement agreement and the divorce becomes unopposed, it can again be possible to finalise the divorce in as little as two months.
What you need to do
Before you approach the Court to start divorce proceedings, you should get certified copies of as many of the following documents as you can:
- Your identity document
- Your Ante-Nuptial Agreement, if any
- The children’s births certificates, if any, and
- Your marriage certificate (the original)
Also make sure you have the following information handy:
- Your full name(s), surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
- Your spouse’s full name(s), surname, identity number, occupation and place of residence
- Date when you got married and where the marriage took place
- Children’s full names, surnames, identity numbers
- Comprehensive details of any funds (such as pension funds, retirement annuities and provident funds) which you or your spouse belongs to, and
- A list of your assets and liabilities.
You may institute divorce proceedings in either a High Court or Magistrates’ Court (Regional Court), but where the parties are representing themselves in a simple divorce, they should approach the Regional Court.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)