There are many ways to achieve a particular goal or purpose.  Reaching a final divorce agreement is no exception, however, the trend is often times to immediately become embroiled in acrimonious litigation.

In recent years there has been an increased trend developing globally, also in South Africa, towards mediation (alternative dispute resolution) of disputes in general but particularly for family law matters.

It is certainly true that parties, if they adopt the same mind set about it, could reach an agreement with the correct assistance of a skilled mediator within a structured mediation process. Talking to one another with a mediator present about the issues concerning your family, after having taken your own advice on your rights and the legal implications, can be very constructive. Even resolving one or two issues via mediation may move the entire matter forward.

Obviously not all disputes can be mediated but if you have not explored the option you may be left with no other option but to litigate all aspects. It is important to be aware that since February this year the High Court rules specifically require litigants (not only for divorce matters) to inform the Court from the outset of a new matter whether they are in favour of mediation or not and to give reasons for the election. 

This does not however mean that the formal process is not available to you if the parties do not agree to mediate or vice versa. Your family law attorney will be able to guide you further.