When spouses agree to terminate their marriage by way of divorce, the process does not always have to be as daunting – or costly – as it may appear. In an uncontested divorce, the spouse on whom the divorce summons is served (the defendant) does not defend the matter within the prescribed period, or the parties enter into a settlement agreement regulating the terms of the divorce.

On the hearing day, the party who initiated the process (the plaintiff) must appear in court to confirm the allegations made in the summons. If the judge is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, a divorce order will be granted, incorporating the settlement agreement (if there is one).

The process of  finalising a divorce on an uncontested basis is thus quicker and more cost-effective than the litigation involved with a contested divorce.

In order to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, the spouses must, amongst other things, take the following into account:

  • If there are minor children involved: with whom will they live post-divorce? What arrangements will be made to ensure acceptable contact between the minor children and the other spouse? And what arrangements will be made with regard to child maintenance?
  • Does one of the spouses require spousal maintenance, and if so, to what extent and for how long?
  • How will the assets and liabilities be dealt with? Spouses may divide their assets and liabilities as they deem fit, and the division may deviate from the distribution required in terms of their marriage regime provided that the terms of the settlement are enforceable, legal, and not against public policy.