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Varying a Divorce Order - The Process

The finalization of a divorce is often perceived as the closing of one chapter and the commencement of a new, separate life for former spouses. While this is true in many aspects, certain critical matters such as minor children, maintenance, and custody can bind the ex-spouses together even after the dissolution of the marriage. In this article, we delve into how the evolution of circumstances post-divorce may necessitate revisiting and amending agreements to accommodate these changes.

In life, many of us yearn for the ability to turn back time to relive cherished moments or rectify past mistakes. Whether it's spending more time with a departed loved one, making amends to those we wronged, or simply doing things differently, the unpredictability of the future prompts us to prepare for various eventualities. However, life has a way of unfolding, sometimes in ways we least expect.

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Similarly, after a divorce, spouses meticulously plan for a future where children navigate life without both parents under the same roof. Decisions about custody arrangements, child support, spousal maintenance, visitation rights, and the distribution of joint assets are made to bring finality to the divorce settlement. Yet, just as seasons change, so do the seasons of our lives. Plans made today may need adjustment tomorrow.

Changed circumstances can prompt either ex-spouse to seek alterations to conditions specified in the divorce decree. The flexibility of the law allows former spouses to petition the court for adjustments based on these changes. Whether it's a career-related relocation to another province, increased child support needs as children enter high school, or the discovery that the Antenuptial contract was never effective, various circumstances can warrant a reevaluation.

Varying a Divorce Decree:

  1. Consensus Building:

    • It's advisable for the party seeking a variation to negotiate and reach consensus with the other party before proceeding. Consensus clears hurdles and streamlines the process.
  2. Application Under Section 8:

    • If consensus is unattainable, the aggrieved party can bring an application under section 8 of the Divorce Act 70 of 1979. The application must be served on the former spouse and any other party with a material interest.
  3. Opposition and Submissions:

    • The respondent can file a notice to oppose and provide opposing submissions.
  4. Court Hearing and Ruling:

    • The matter proceeds to a hearing, and the court delivers a ruling.

Navigating this process entails legal and technical complexities, necessitating professional legal assistance. Seeking legal guidance is advisable for both initiating and defending an application for the variation of a divorce decree.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Inc. - Divorce Lawyers Johannesburg and Cape Town

For expert assistance in family law litigation, including divorces, maintenance matters, child support, and spousal support, Van Deventer & Van Deventer Inc. is here to help. Visit our interactive website for a comprehensive overview of our services, and feel free to contact us for more information.

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