“How long does it take to get a divorce?”, a common question in any Divorce Law firm. This article will aim to answer this in plain language, giving the true facts about the “quickie divorce”.
How long does a CONTESTED divorce take?
Contested divorces, where the parties cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, can take many months, even years, to reach the divorce trial stage. Fortunately, however, most contested divorces are settled before trial starts.
How long does an UNCONTESTED divorce take?
An uncontested divorce, where both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, can be finalised in as little as 3 weeks from date of signing the divorce papers. (Most uncontested divorces handled by iedivorce are finalised within 3 – 8 weeks from date of signing the settlement agreement.) [However, please note that the court’s case load, the Family Advocate’s case load, if applicable, the sheriff’s workload, as well as interruptions at these institutions due to the pandemic, are all factors that influence how soon your divorce can be finalised.)
Why does it take 3 or more weeks to finalise an uncontested divorce?
After signing the divorce papers, the divorce attorney will have to issue divorce summons at the relevant Court and deliver the documents at the Sheriff’s office. This usually takes about 1 – 3 working days. The Sheriff will have to serve the summons and signed divorce papers on the Defendant. This will take about 3 – 10 working days, depending on the Sheriff’s workload. If “urgent service” is requested, the Sheriff will usually serve it within a day, but the account will be higher and reasons for urgency will need to be stated. “Urgent service” should only be requested in exceptional, urgent circumstances. In terms of the Court Rules, there must be a period of at least 10 court days after service of the divorce summons on the defendant (20 days if the defendant lives outside of the court’s jurisdiction) before the local, uncontested divorce may be set down for hearing.
If there are minor children involved the original divorce papers and a copy of it needs to be served on the Family Advocate’s office as well. We usually do this right after we have received the original papers and the Return of service (proof that the papers were served) back from the Sheriff. The Family Advocate usually provide an endorsement (approval) of the Parenting plan within 2-5 days. You cannot get divorced without the Family Advocate’s endorsement (approval) of the Parenting Plan.
The Quickie Divorce – The Fastest Divorce Possible
It is clear from the above that the fastest way to finalise an uncontested divorce (without “urgent service” ) is about 3 – 5 weeks from date of signing the divorce papers.
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Nazli Williams (BCom LLB), the director of Patton Williams Attorneys (iedivorce), is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, specialising in Divorce and Family Law matters. Her fields of expertise and interest include Divorce Law, Family Law, Domestic Violence Law and International Divorce Law. Her vision is to demystify Family Law processes, helping good people in plain language and with great technology, to achieve remarkable results.