How to get a cheap divorce

There are two types of divorces – the contested divorce and the uncontested divorce. As far as costs go, uncontested divorces are the most ideal for all parties involved. Not only are they cost-effective, but they’re also the quickest. An uncontested divorce can be finalised within four weeks. A contested divorce, however, may take between 2-3 years, thus involving far more expenses and stress among the parties.

If you are getting divorced and it is uncontested, you may wish to take the do-it-yourself route. DIY divorce does not require the help of an attorney (who can charge from R800 to R2,000 an hour) making it a very cost-savvy option.

Divorcing without an attorney can happen in two ways:

  • Your local magistrate’s court can provide you with the necessary forms and give you guidance on how to conclude your own divorce without legal representation.
  • If you wish to avoid queuing, you can use an online divorce service to draft your divorce papers and conclude your divorce. You will simply be required to fill out a questionnaire and pay the due fees. This service is available on DIYLegal.

To make the DIY process fast and affordable, templates are usually used to save costly attorney time. The divorcing couple fills in the questionnaire, and then an attorney looks through the information and will let the pair know if more information is required.

Once the attorney is satisfied that the documents are ready for submission, they send them to the divorcing pair for review. Once everyone is happy, the attorney sends details through on how to submit the documents and explains what happens next.

To process your divorce, you need to take the documents to court and pay for the sheriff to serve them on your partner, which costs from R150. After the documents are served, a court date can be set.

The length of the DIY divorce process varies depending on where you are in the country, but, should there be no complications, the judge will make the agreement an “Order of Court” in roughly a month.

Note that DIY divorce is not always ideal, and using it incorrectly may make your divorce process costly. For instance, where children are involved or where there are substantial assets, retirement annuities or pension funds, it is better to seek the assistance of an attorney with family law experience or to recruit a third-party mediator. This way a comprehensive settlement agreement and parenting plan can be put together and implemented.