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Point of View: Understanding the process of separation and divorce in South Africa

Kaya 959 Reporter

The transition period from separation to divorce can be a daunting period in a married couple’s life, one that requires both parties to enter with their eyes wide open.

In the context of South Africa, a divorce is the legal dissolution or termination of marriage whereas a legal separation does not put an end to the marriage. This is very important to understand as separation means that the individuals are still married in the eyes of the law.

This means, whether you have a trial separation, or living apart, or have a permanent separation (when you break up, but not legally), through all these you are still considered married.

Point of View with Phemelo Motenne was joined by Rushka Pedro Lee, who is a Mediator as well as Nthabiseng Dubazana, a Legal Expert who specialises in Criminal and Family Law to give Kaya 959 listeners an understanding of the process of separation and divorce in South Africa.

LISTEN TO THE FULL CONVERSATION HERE:

Nthabiseng Dubazana gave a clearer definition of what separation is in the context of South Africa, saying unlike in countries like the US, it isn’t catered for in terms of the law. Under the laws of South Africa, one can either be: Unmarried; Married, or Divorced.

She advised that its important to always know where you stand with your partner, in case one of you dies during the process of separation.

“Basically if you are still thinking of going through with a divorce or you are still trying to sort things out, with your feelings and emotions pertaining to separation, it is always advisable to seek professional help, to see a physiatrist, to make the transition easier.

“If the decision is still pending, it’s important to see someone who will help you transition into the person you want to be, or help who will help you find your way together with your partner,” says Dubazana.

When is it time to see a mediator?

Rushka Pedro Lee, broke down when she typically steps in as a mediator. As a mediator she says, she takes control of the negotiations and helps guide married couples through the emotional aspects of divorce so they can come to an agreement that all parties can live with.

“The most common factor that we come across is access to the children, and of course maintenance, money is a big factor when it comes to these things,” says Pedro Lee.

She also said that during this period there is a lack of trust between both parties, however, what she’s realised over the years is that people generally want the same things.

She added that as mediators they become translators to both parties as it gets quite intense.

Both Rushka and Nthabiseng provided different scenarios that may arise in the event married couples separate or eventually decide to get a divorce.

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Written by: Zuko



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