• According to Stats SA, 32 484 divorces were granted in South Africa in 2005.

  • Legal separation does not exist in South Africa even if you are no longer living with your husband and not divorced. According to the law, you are still married.

  • You don't have to get your husband's permission to get a divorce. If your spouse is not willing to get divorced, you can get a divorce granted without his or her consent.

  • In special circumstances you may get your marriage annulled. An annulment differs from a divorce in that it not only dissolves the marriage but also wipes it off the record.

  • The age of majority, that is the age when you are old enough to marry without your parents' consent, is 18 in South Africa.

  • If you are younger than 18 you need your parents' or a legal guardian's consent. to marry. If you are younger than 18, you can also apply to the court to become a major, in which case, if your request is granted you are seen as an adult in the eyes of the law.

  • The law that governs your marriage depends on your country of domicile. This is the country you designate to be your permanent home. You can be married or have a wedding outside of South Africa, but if your chosen place of permanent residence is South Africa, then South African law governs your marriage.

    Maintenance claims
    When you divorce, depending on your financial situation and what regime you are married by, it is possible to sue your ex-husband for spousal maintenance, which is completely separate to child maintenance.

    According to the law, biological parents are financially obligated to contribute to their child's welfare, whether the child was conceived in or out of marriage.

    Spousal maintenance on the other hand is only applicable to married couples but it is not always guaranteed.

    "The courts will look at how long you've been together and the circumstances of your case. if you've been married for a very brief period and are quite young, you are not going to receive maintenance," explains Jacqueline Ellis of Jacqueline Ellis Attorneys.

    "If you were married for a long time and never worked throughout the marriage and he supported you, you will get what is called rehabilitative maintenance because the court understands it will take you a while to get a job."

    The time period for rehabilitative maintenance is dependent on each case. where maintenance is granted your ex can stipulate how long or under what conditions he'll continue to pay you.

    "Some lawyers include a clause that say the payment will stop if you cohabit with someone or get married again," says Ellis.

    Source: Stats SA and Jacqueline Ellis (Jacqueline Ellis Attorneys)