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People should always be neat and clean in Court. Men should always where a suite and tie. Women should look well-dressed and formal.

Court Proceedings – Opposed


An opposed divorce can get very complicated, particularly in Court, and you need the assistance of an attorney (and possible an advocate as well). As such, what follows is merely a description of the process you can expect to encounter.

The legal representative for the Plaintiff will start the proceedings. He or she will inform the Court of the issues that are in agreement and those that are in dispute between the parties. He or she will state the Plaintiff’s case. Thereafter the Defendant’s legal representative has an opportunity to state what the Defendant’s case is.

Now the legal representative for the Plaintiff will call the Plaintiff and the witnesses that will testify for the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff and the witnesses will be called individually.

Each witness will, firstly, be asked questions by the Plaintiff’s legal representative. This is called examination-in-chief and the questions should be “open questions”. The questions will start with the words “why”, “when”, “how”, “where”, ex. Thus the question should be formulated so that the witness cannot only answer “yes” or “no”, for example:
“Where did your husband stay while you were in Cape Town? He stayed with his girlfriend in Johannesburg.”

After examination-in-chief the legal representative for the Defendant will ask questions to the witness. This is called cross-examination. All the questions should be “leading questions”. This means that the questions should be formulated so that the witness has to answer “yes” or “no”, for example:
“Did you see your husband with another woman?  Yes.”

The aims of cross examination are to:

  • Elicit favourable evidence
  • Discredit the evidence of the witness that is testifying
  • Discredit the witness that is currently testifying
  • Discredit the evidence given by another witness and discredit that witness
  • Put your version of the events to the court
  • Parade your case

Hereafter the Defendant’s legal representative will call the Defendant and the witnesses that will testify for the Defendant. The Defendant and the witnesses will be called individually. The legal representative for the Defendant will do the examination-in-chief and the Plaintiff’s legal representative will cross-examine the Defendant and witnesses. At the end the legal representative for the Plaintiff will close his case by giving his argument. He will deal with the facts and the law. The legal representative for the Defendant will then also deal with the facts and law when giving his argument.

After the closing arguments, the Court will deliver judgment. This can happen immediately, or only after a few days or weeks, depending on the complexity of the matter and the evidence.

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