How to get a DIY divorce in South Africa
A DIY divorce can only occur when both parties are interested in an uncontested divorce.
A DIY divorce can only occur when both parties are interested in an uncontested divorce. (Getty Images)

Parent24's #dignifieddivorce series is here to help parents navigate the legal and emotional implications of a divorce.

Getting a divorce is traumatic enough, and adding lawyers and that financial burden when both parties agree on everything can make it worse. 

In this case, a DIY divorce could be the best way forward. 

Why do people use a DIY divorce service? 

With a DIY divorce, the agreeing parties fill in an online questionnaire, a lawyer reviews the submission and once confirmed everything is correct, the relevant documents are returned - sometimes within 48 hours. The couple can then go to court with all the correct paperwork.

We spoke to the professionals at for some insight into the process.

What is a DIY divorce?

A DIY divorce can only occur when both parties are interested in an uncontested divorce. 

The major features a couple must agree on, for an amicable DIY divorce, are:

  • Whether or not to get divorced

  • Split of assets

  • Maintenance (if any) and the amount

  • Custody and maintenance of minor children

As a result of this, there are restrictions around who would find a DIY divorce useful. If you can’t agree on the terms of the divorce, then the DIY route isn’t for you.

If you aren’t in agreement about the key aspects of your divorce, then it is best to use mediation or the services of a divorce lawyer.

If through mediation you come to an agreement on the basics of your divorce, then it is possible to use continue on to a DIY divorce service.

What does it cost? 

A DIY divorce is often a cheap, quick and easy way of getting a divorce. It is expensive to use a lawyer (from around R500 to as much as R3000 per hour) and it is hard to know how long the consultation process may take.

Costs can easily mushroom and it can be hard to control, especially when you’re doing something unfamiliar that you are emotionally invested in. 

It is also possible to do your divorce entirely by yourself, but it is a complex process that needs to be perfect; you want the forms to be filled and submitted correctly so you don’t have to extend the process of getting a divorce.

So it's often a much more cost effective method, with a basic, uncontested divorce costing under R1000 in some cases. 

Also read: What are the grounds for divorce in South Africa?

How does it work? 

In order to make the process fast and affordable, templates are used to save expensive attorney time. The divorcing couple fills in an online form to capture all of their details and an attorney then looks through the information and will let them know if more information is required.

Once the attorney is happy that the documents are suitable for submission, they send them to the divorcing pair for review. Once everyone is happy, the attorney sends details through on how to submit the documents and explains the next steps.

In order to process your divorce, you’ll need to take the documents to court and pay for the sheriff to serve them on your partner (this costs from R150). After the documents are served a court date can be set.

In an uncontested divorce only the plaintiff - the person who has started the process - needs to appear in court. 

For those that need additional support, it is possible to add consultations with a lawyer, and even someone to go to court with you, for an extra fee.

How long will it take?

How long the process takes will vary depending on where you are in the country, but barring complications, the judge will make the agreement an ‘Order of Court’ in about a month.

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