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Divorce & Family Law

Divorce & Family Law

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Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is a complex process that unfolds when spouses find themselves unable to reach an agreement on crucial aspects of their separation. These contentious points typically revolve around sensitive issues such as child maintenance, childcare arrangements, visitation rights, and the equitable division of marital assets. Given the personal and financial stakes involved, contested divorces require judicial intervention to resolve the disputes.

The litigation involved in a contested divorce can be a protracted affair, often extending up to three years or more. This duration is not just a measure of time but also of the emotional and financial strain it places on all family members involved. The adversarial nature of the proceedings can exacerbate tensions, leading to lasting impacts on relationships within the family.

Recognising the challenges inherent in contested divorces, Bailey Haynes Inc. is committed to providing comprehensive litigation services tailored to these situations. Alongside our litigation support, we also offer divorce mediation services as a means to facilitate amicable resolutions wherever possible.

The Process of a Contested Divorce

Contested divorces follow a structured legal process, including several key stages:

  • Pleadings: This foundational step involves the submission of formal statements (summons and defence) that outline each party's position regarding the divorce, setting the stage for the proceedings.

  • Application for and Set Down of a Trial Date: After the initial pleadings, the court will schedule a trial date, marking the official start of the litigation phase.

  • Discovery of Documents: Both parties are required to disclose all relevant documents and evidence, ensuring transparency and fairness in the proceedings.

  • Further Discovery/Particulars: This phase allows for the request and disclosure of additional documents deemed necessary for building a comprehensive case.

  • Pre-trial Conference: This optional stage aims to explore potential settlements before the trial officially begins, offering a last chance for amicable resolution.

  • Trial: The trial is the culmination of the contested divorce process, where both parties present their cases in court.

  • Judgement: The court delivers its verdict, making legal determinations on child maintenance, childcare, visitation rights, and asset division.

Bailey Haynes Inc. – Your Attorneys in Contested Divorces

At Bailey Haynes Inc., our team of experienced divorce lawyers in Cape Town approaches each case with the sensitivity and dedication it deserves. Our goal is to navigate the turbulent waters of contested divorces with a strategy that minimises stress, emotional turmoil, and financial burden. By providing expert legal counsel and personalised attention, we strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients, ensuring their rights are protected every step of the way.

For anyone facing the prospect of a contested divorce, Bailey Haynes Inc. offers a beacon of support and guidance. Contact us to access the expert legal advice and compassionate service that you need during this challenging time.



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Contested Divorce FAQS

Alternatives to a contested divorce include mediation, where a neutral third party helps the couple reach an agreement, or an uncontested/collaborative divorce, where both parties and their attorneys commit to resolving the issues without going to court. These alternatives can be less adversarial and costly.

Yes, a contested divorce can be settled out of court at any time before the final judgement if both parties can reach an agreement through negotiation or mediation. This agreement is then made an order of the court.

While the grounds for divorce may not significantly affect the outcome in terms of the dissolution of marriage itself, they can influence aspects such as custody arrangements and the division of assets, especially in cases involving misconduct.

In a contested divorce, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child, considering factors like the child's physical and emotional needs, the parents' ability to provide for those needs, and the child's own wishes, depending on their age and maturity.

The duration of a contested divorce in South Africa can vary significantly, often taking several months to years to resolve, depending on the complexity of the issues and the court's schedule.

Contested divorces are generally more costly than uncontested divorces due to longer legal proceedings, the need for legal representation, and possible court fees. Additionally, the division of assets and spousal support can have long-term financial implications.

The main steps include filing a summons with the court, serving the summons on the other spouse, the other spouse filing a notice of intention to defend, exchanging pleadings (such as particulars of claim and defence), possibly attending a pre-trial conference, and finally, going to trial for a judge to make a decision.

If one spouse refuses to participate in the divorce proceedings, the court can proceed with the divorce in their absence, potentially granting a default judgement in favour of the participating spouse, based on the evidence presented.

A contested divorce in South Africa occurs when the spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues regarding their divorce, such as child custody, division of assets, spousal support, or child support. These disputes require resolution through the court system.

Attorneys play a crucial role in contested divorces, providing legal advice, representing their clients in court, negotiating settlements, and ensuring their client's rights are protected throughout the process.