Any South African citizen that was married and subsequently got divorced must keep a clean copy of their divorce decree. Divorce decrees are essential documents that are required as part of many legal processes. If you do not currently have a copy of your divorce decree, can help you obtain a fully legal, High Court stamped certificate/copy, provided you have information about your divorce.

Divorce decree online South Africa

What are divorce decrees?

A Decree of Divorce is essentially a summary of your divorce settlement. It proves that your divorce was finalised in a South African High Court. This certificate is the front page of your divorce settlement, stamped and signed by the High Court where the decree was issued. Sometimes, this is called a decree absolute or final divorce order.

Obtaining a copy of your divorce decree is a complicated matter if you misplaced the original document. Divorce decrees are also not obtainable online since applications for copies of these documents must be made at the High Court.

To quickly obtain a copy of your divorce decree, you must have details on when and where the divorce was finalised. While it is true that we have helped clients that did not have information on their case number, exact date, and court where the divorce was finalised, the process becomes exceptionally lengthy and pricey without these vital pieces of information. Although a few High Courts in South Africa have very well organised archives, not all of them do, making the retrieval of your documents much harder without basic details.

Furthermore, for those divorces that took place long ago (usually prior to 2000), the physical paper files have been archived in off-site storage, making it very challenging to obtain the documentation. It requires two applications and a much longer wait. Again, this also depends on which court issued the divorce decree – Cape Town has much better records than Johannesburg, for example.

How long does it take to obtain divorce decrees in South Africa?

Usually, it takes around one to two weeks to obtain a divorce decree from a South African High Court, by legal application. That said, without information such as the case number, the exact date of the divorce, ID numbers of the parties, etc., it could take longer.

Critically important: has an excellent success rate as far as obtaining divorce decrees are concerned. However, there are rare instances where documents are missing from the High Court archives. Sadly, when this happens, there is little anyone can do to help you obtain a copy of your divorce decree. The file will be reported as empty or missing. In some cases, the registrar can re-issue an unsigned decree of divorce based on a paper or digital copy provided by the client.

Divorce decree for South Africa

Example divorce decree for South Africa

There are also instances where files are relocated to different courts or off-site storage facilities. This can also significantly delay the process. In this event, an application must be lodged with the Department of Justice. The additional step in the process will incur extra costs and add at least three to six months to the usually short timeline.

How can one apply for a copy of a divorce decree? can assist 80-90% of all our clients with obtaining copies of their divorce decrees. This is because we work with all 14 High Courts of South Africa.

To obtain a copy of this document on your behalf, you must supply us with as much information as possible. The more information we have, the faster we can retrieve your file from the archives.

In order for us to help you obtain your decree of divorce, we need the following information:

  • Divorce case number
  • Court where the divorce was finalised (mandatory – information required)
  • Date (day, month, and year) of the divorce
  • Names and ID numbers of the plaintiff and defendant (you and your ex-spouse)

Once your file has been retrieved from the archives, a copy of the official document is made. The copy is also stamped by the High Court. If you plan to use the document in a member country of the Hague Convention, the document can also be apostilled for legal use abroad.

It is not always certain that with a case number and court name, that we (or anyone) can obtain your divorce decree file. Sometimes, as mentioned, the files have been moved to other storage facilities, which means it may take months to retrieve. But as also stated above, even worse, there have been cases where the file holding the divorce decree and divorce settlement is found to be empty. In such cases, the only hope of getting a divorce decree copy is from the law firm that assisted you in court, if there was one, or by a re-issue from the High Court.

Decree of Divorce High Court Stamp

Can I gain access to divorce records for South Africa online?

Most jurisdictions limit access to public records. They may also prohibit you from viewing the decree unless you are a party to the case or a legal representative of one of the parties. This is why these documents are not available online, nor sometimes even in person. A legal application must be made by a qualified party.

The civil High Court, where your divorce was filed, is where copies of divorce decrees are stored in electronic and hardcopy formats. In order to obtain a copy of this divorce certificate, you will need to have the case number of your divorce on hand.

Need assistance with divorce decrees? is a concierge service in South Africa that can help you obtain your documents in the fastest time possible. We can assist with tracing your records and having stamped and apostilled copies issued as soon as possible. We work with all 14 High Courts of South Africa. can and does assist more than 95% of incoming clients with obtaining copies of their divorce decrees.