You may be eligible for an expat divorce
There are roughly 198,000 South Africans living in Australia. This figure is just under half the number in the UK – c. 404,000, and it’s a reasonable assumption that a large number of them are married.
Sadly, not all marriages go the distance. If you were married in South Africa but have moved abroad, or if you were married in Australia but now reside here, you may be able to make a divorce application through the South African courts. This is known as an expat divorce. There are added complexities in this situation and you may need to engage the services of a South African lawyer to assist you with your divorce kit, even if you have a lawyer in Australia.
You may need an expat divorce if:
- You are originally from South Africa but currently live in Australia and want to use the South African courts to make a divorce application
- Your marriage took place abroad
- You have lived outside South Africa for a number of years, have only recently returned and want to divorce here
- You and / or your spouse are from outside South Africa, have made your home here and choose to divorce here
- Your spouse lives outside South Africa and there may be issues in tracing them or debate about where to get divorced
There may be other circumstances where an ‘expat divorce’ or international divorce law may apply. If you have a separation agreement and / or want to make a divorce application, there are complex legal issues to consider, so it is always best to take advice from a lawyer experienced in international divorce issues.
Do you have children?
South African law has recently become very complicated regarding the movement of minor children into and out of the country. If you are seeking divorce from the parent of your child, of South African or other nationality, and intend to travel to South Africa with your child or children unaccompanied by the other parent, you need to understand the legislation regarding travel with a minor child.
You may need the services of a legal professional to ensure you can travel safely with your family. Simon Dippenaar & Associates will ensure you have all the requisite documentation and comply with all immigration requirements when travelling…before, during and after the finalisation of your divorce decree.
Simon Dippenaar & Associates – experts in family law in South Africa and beyond
We are able to offer advice on international and expat divorce issues, including how to get a divorce in Australia through the South African courts, advice on issues of jurisdiction (whether or not you are eligible for an expat divorce), as well as the international relocation of children.
If you are simultaneously making a divorce application through the Australian courts we will work with your Australian lawyer to ensure minimal duplication of effort and maximum efficiency.
Am I eligible to divorce under South African law?
This is the most commonly asked question by expats. The answer is determined by where you and your spouse are ‘domiciled’ and where you are habitually resident (normally live).
Domicile is a legal concept used to link an individual with a particular legal system. It takes into account where you were born as well as where you are living now and your intentions for the future. Our lawyers will be able to advise you of your options once we have assessed your circumstances. This is usually a straightforward process that can be done via a telephone consultation.
Why divorce under South African law?
If you were married in South Africa and intend to return at a future date, it may be to your advantage to file for divorce in the South African courts rather than in Australia. We will do a case assessment and advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of both options.
Find out more about Expat divorce Australia
If you would like to know more about expat divorce or find out if you are eligible to divorce under South African law, contact us, giving your name, Australian phone number or Skype address, and indicate when you are available: morning, afternoon or evening. One of our lawyers will call you back.