The difficulties that come with a divorce can sometimes leave people feeling uncertain of how divorce registration works and what processes to follow. The emotional experience in many cases also sees people not attend to the administrative side of the matter. In this post, we look at how to register your divorce in South Africa and the steps involved in the process.
After obtaining a divorce decree, South Africans whose status was MARRIED must be registered as DIVORCED on the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) system. South Africans can only register their divorce by visiting a DHA branch or a South African mission abroad. After registering your divorce, you can apply for and be issued with a no-impediment letter indicating your DIVORCED status.
What is a South African divorce decree?
When someone is asked to produce a divorce decree, it usually means they require the front page of the full decree only, stamped and signed by the High Court or court in which the decree was issued. Sometimes, the divorce decree and full settlement are required, which means the whole document that you and your ex-spouse signed and agreed upon to divorce each other legally. When children are involved, there is often also a parental plan in the settlement.
How to register your divorce in South Africa and get a copy of your divorce decree
South Africans living abroad cannot simply go and obtain their South African divorce decree online. You will need to make an application at the High Court in person or in proxy and obtain an original copy in that way.
Usually, the minimum information needed to obtain a divorce decree quickly is the divorce case number and the court in which it took place. Sometimes, with only an ID number, from certain High Courts we are able to assist.
Without the case number, the exact date and court would allow a lawyer to search the divorce records of that year, month, and the date and find the divorce case number and decree in that method. Of course, this process takes more time and costs a great deal more. With only a year (no month or day), the lawyer would have to search through all the divorces of that year in that court.
Even worse, some people only know which city they were divorced in, but there are several courts to search within each major city in South Africa (e.g., Durban has three).
The following are all bits of information that can assist in obtaining the divorce decree faster:
- Divorce case number
- Court in which the divorce took place
- The names and ID numbers of the people involved (plaintiff and defendant)
- The date (day, month, and year) of the divorce
Sometimes people have an old, scan or copy of the divorce decree, and this contains all the above information and more! So, if you have an old divorce decree and are reading this, go and scan your current copy now. It may prove worthwhile and save you a lot of time and money in the future in case you lose the original.
Register your divorce in South Africa and obtainment of divorce decrees:
a.) Apostil has an excellent success rate with obtaining divorce decrees. However, there are rare instances where we go to the court, search for and locate the file, but then are shown by the court staff that there is no documentation in the file/folder. In this case, there is nothing further we (or anyone else) can do to assist.
b.) In some instances, after searching for a file at the given court, we find that the file has been relocated to a different court or off-site archive, often only obtainable through an application at the Department of Justice. Apostil may request an additional fee in these cases, and the timing will change considerably (additional three months).
It is true that the above two situations happen very rarely. However, they are real possibilities that we need to inform you of before proceeding with assisting you.
What are the next steps after obtaining a divorce decree and the divorce registration process?
Once you have the document, some countries or authorities need an original, and others need it to be apostilled or attested. An apostille verifies the registrar’s/magistrate’s stamp and signature on the divorce decree, which the relevant High Court will do. Thereafter, if apostilled by a High Court, if needed, DIRCO can verify the court stamp and signature as well.
Need assistance with registering your divorce in South Africa?
Before searching for your divorce decree in South Africa, find out precisely what you require and then contact us to find an estimated timing and pricing.
If you need a divorce document for South Africa, get in touch right away by email or phone. We can assist you in getting closer to having it in your hand, even if we cannot obtain it right away.