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Family Law Services

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Divorce Procedures

Divorce Procedures

Divorce Procedures

There are many reasons that would bring a person to the divorce decision and all of them are based on extreme unhappiness and personal suffering.

These are extremely private and personal matters and by the time a Client arrives for their first consultation, they are feeling vulnerable, raw, exposed and betrayed. Whilst being compassionate, our Attorneys utilise simplicity, practicality and logic to keep the emotional levels downplayed so that they can give their sole attention to the Clients and the entirety of their respective situations.

The Specialist  Divorce and Family Law team of Lawyers at  Martin Vermaak Attorneys, know what they’re doing and get straight to safeguarding the Clients’ rights. We understand that each of our Clients face their own unique situation which requires our complete and undivided attention.

Because of the specialist nature of our work, we get to know and appreciate each one of our Clients on an individual basis. Once we have their matter in hand, each of our Clients being to begin to regain a sense of wellbeing whilst maintaining their dignity and esteem. Needless to say, each individual matter is handled with care and precision.

Once we have accepted you as our Client, we ensure that you receive the fullest benefit the law has to offer your circumstance. With all this knowledge and peace of mind you will find yourself more empowered to face the decision-making processes you will encounter regarding your future.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

This type of Divorce has recently enjoyed some popularity – doubtless brought on by the downswing in the economy – and as an economical divorce for those with serious budget constraints, its attendant forfeitures have been written off and comfort has given way to currency and compromise.

The Uncontested Divorce is much faster than the Contested Divorce. Usually the Parties concerned have already spent time and effort to arrive at an agreement on most or all of the issues. The Specialist Divorce and Family Law team at Martin Vermaak Attorneys can then proceed to promptly finalise the matter.

Only one of the spouses hires an Lawyer to deal with their divorce matter – that Lawyer cannot represent both Parties in an Uncontested Divorce. The Attorney drafts and files all the required documentation – Combined Summons and Settlement Agreement, etcetera, and the non Client (the other uncontesting spouse), reads and signs the Agreement. The non Client may contact the Attorney on record for their spouse and ask them questions but they should bear in mind the fact that the Attorney on record’s loyalty at all times will be with the spouse from whom they received the instruction.

CONTESTED DIVORCE

When the Parties concerned are not able to reach an agreement, it is regarded as a Contested Divorce. Although the majority of these types of divorce become settled before they end up in Court, the proceedings usually last more than six months and sometimes can take up to 3 years before finalisation. The time factors involved and the amount of work required from your Attorney can make it quite costly for the pocket and the nerves.

Martin Vermaak Attorneys charges an hourly rate for these Divorces as an advance assessment of total hours to be spent is impossible. Most of the other Professionals who become involved in this matter – for example Trial Advocates, Psychologists, Financial experts and etcetera likewise charge an hourly tariff.

Below is an explanation of the traditional South African Court system and these Divorces fall into the following five stages:

• Preparation

• Filing of Pleadings

• Settlement

• Discovery

• Trial

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Preparation:

Our Attorney handling the matter asks his Client a great many questions so that he can familiarise himself with their particular situation and begin to prepare for the case in hand. Therefore, the Client should provide our Attorney with all information and documentation he requests and answer his questions honestly and comprehensively so that he can efficiently represent them. After consult and obtaining this information our Attorney drafts the initial documents which, once the Client is satisfied with them, they then sign.

Filing of Pleadings:

Following this, instruction is sent to the Sheriff of the particular jurisdictional area concerned, to serve the Combined Summons and Particulars of Claim upon the Client’s spouse. Once served, these documents are then files with the Court. After the defending spouse has responded to the services, and the Pleadings have closed, we apply for a trial date.

Settlement:

Interestingly, the Settlement Process does not have to take place at any specific stage in the Divorce Proceedings.  Although it would usually be begun between Filing of Pleadings and Discovery, it can take place even after Discovery and before Trial or, even during The Trail itself.

Often a Round Table Discussion for a settlement discussion is organised, whereby our Attorney and his Client meets with the ‘other side’ to discuss a variety of settlement options. The Court normally requires that all Parties attend a pre-trial hearing to discuss settlement of the disputed issues (but this is not always the case). If successful, a Settlement that both Parties consider fair and equitable is reached. The Attorneys on record then commit those details to paper and draft a Settlement Agreement. This Agreement sets out in writing all the terms that have been discussed and agreed upon by both Parties and is signed by those Parties in the presence of the Witnesses concerned.

Discovery:

During the Discovery Stage our Attorney requests to be furnished with a great deal of information from both you, the Client, and also from your Spouse’s Attorneys about your Spouse - their Client. This includes income information; bank and credit card statements; property documents, mall; – sometimes appraisals and evaluations, and etcetera. Your Spouse will have to provide us with all of this data that we require, and will do so usually through their Attorneys. Prior to this, perhaps even you may not have been able to have the opportunity to discover or access the information which our Attorney is provided with about your spouse. These facts are vital in providing our Attorneys with an indication of the focus the Opposing Attorneys will have on the issues in the matter. Needless to say, similar information is requested from our Attorney about our Client.

Trial:

After exhausting all the other alternatives, in the unlikely event that your case still has not been resolved, our Attorney prepares for Trial. The amount of concerns involved in each divorce case will decide the duration of each Trial. Some cases are tried in a day; others last for several days and more. A single day in Court costs several thousands of Rands for both sides, making the Trial expensive from a fiscal and emotional viewpoint. Sadly, in some rare situations, this is unavoidable. It is Martin Vermaak Attorneys’ experience those cases that actually go to Trial involve disputed Care and Contact; Division of Assets, and Maintenance Issues.