Divorce lawyers in Johannesburg I Family Law I Lilram Attorneys

Family Law & Divorce

Family Law

Family Law & Divorce – Johannesburg

With several years of experience in matrimonial matters, we adopt a sensitive yet firm approach in order to protect our clients’ rights and assets.  We strive to protect the financial and emotional well-being of our clients and their children, during and after a divorce or family-law dispute.

Our family law services include:

  • Ante-nuptial Contracts,  Post-nuptial Contracts,  Cohabitation Agreements
  • Uncontested Divorce
  • Divorce Mediation
  • Contested Divorce
  • Divorcing a missing spouse
  • Divorcing a spouse who lives overseas
  • Maintenance Applications (interim maintenance, spousal maintenance, child maintenance)
  • Parenting Plans,  Assistance with child disputes  (‘custody’ and ‘access’ matters)
  • Co-guardianship Applications by third parties

You can read more about each of these services below.  If you require assistance with a family law matter, please email us to book a consultation.


  • Ante-nuptial Contracts

Are you getting married?  In keeping with your estate planning requirements, we can draft a tailor-made ante-nuptial contract for you and your future spouse.  Contact us today for discounted rates on your marriage contract.  We can simultaneously assist you with the drafting of a Will and/or registration of a Trust.

  • Post-nuptial Contracts

Did you know you can change your matrimonial property regime from “in community-of-property” to “out of community-of-property” by executing a post-nuptial contract?  However, you first need to obtain permission from court.  The court has certain strict requirements regarding applications to execute a post-nuptial contract.  Contact us to find out more.

  • Cohabitation Agreements / Domestic Partnerships

Cohabitation refers to people who, regardless of gender, live together in a domestic partnership without being validly married to each other. In South Africa, there are currently no laws that address cohabitation (as the Domestic Partnership Bill has not yet been adopted as legislation).  Each year an increasing number of couples are electing to live together in domestic partnerships.  It is useful to have a cohabitation agreement drawn up by an attorney if the couple want to regulate certain aspects of the relationship during the domestic partnership, and want to avoid disputes in the event that they terminate the relationshipContact us for advice and assistance with cohabitation agreements.

  • Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested (or unopposed) divorce is a less expensive type of divorce.  It is one in which you and your spouse have worked together to agree on the terms of your divorce.  In an uncontested divorce, both parties have typically already reached agreement on all aspects of the divorce (including how to divide assets, and child-related matters, if any) before proceeding with their divorce.  Because there are no issues in dispute, they appoint ONE attorney to draft a settlement agreement, institute legal proceedings and have the settlement agreement made an Order of Court.  If you and your spouse have already reached agreement on all aspects of your divorce contact us today to formalize your uncontested divorce at court.

If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce but are having difficulty reaching agreement on various issues, we strongly suggest Divorce Mediation.

  • Divorce Mediation

Mediation is a less-expensive and non-adversarial method to obtain a divorce with the assistance of a neutral facilitator.  During mediation, the parties work together to make joint decisions on important divorce-issues that affect your life and the lives of your children.  The mediator provides a safe, private environment for the parties to identify important issues relating to their divorce (e.g. child-related disputes, finances, division of assets) and to resolve those issues via constructive engagement.  The mediator is an impartial third party who:-  provides professional leadership,  encourages meaningful engagement,  diffuses emotions,  and assists the parties to find equitable solutions.

Mediation is not counselling or therapy, nor is mediation a court-hearing  –  the mediator does not ‘judge’ the parties or impose an outcome. The goal of mediation is that by the end of the process the parties will have reached agreement on all divorce-issues in dispute, and their divorce can be finalized on an unopposed basis.

Participation in mediation is voluntary – the parties can leave the negotiation process at any time. If the parties cannot reach agreement, each party is free to appoint their own attorney to pursue litigation or proceed with a contested divorce.  However, if the parties are committed to mediation and if they participate in good faith, the mediation process can be finalized in just a few sessions.

Our attorney, Shalin Lilram, is a professionally-trained, accredited mediator with several years of experience in divorce mediation and alternative dispute resolution. She has vast experience with financial and child-related disputes.  If you are ready to explore divorce mediation, simply fill in the form at the end of this page and we will get back to you.

  • Contested Divorce

A contested (or opposed) divorce is one in which the parties are unable to reach agreement on various aspects of the divorce including:  division of their assets;  matters relating to primary residence & other aspects of their minor children;  and the payment of maintenance to a spouse.  The matter proceeds to trial in order for the court to decide how to deal with the issues in dispute.  A contested divorce can take between one to three years or more, to conclude.

In contested divorce proceedings, each party may need to present evidence from experts to support his/her case.  In certain cases and depending on the complexity of the matter, some of the experts we may need to engage include:

  • clinical psychologists/child care experts – to determine who the child should live with
  • forensic accountants – to examine the couple’s assets
  • actuaries – to determine maintenance contributions or child support
  • industrial psychologists – to determine a spouse’s employability for maintenance purposes
  • private investigators – to obtain evidence to substantiate a claim of infidelity

During the litigation process either party may elect to make a settlement offer.  We advise our clients to consider settlement offers that are reasonable and in the best interests of the child.

If you are stuck in an acrimonious, highly-contested divorce and are struggling to see a way out, contact us for assistance.  We specialize in divorce litigation and divorce settlements.

  • Divorcing a missing spouse

It is possible to divorce a spouse who is ‘missing’ or a spouse whose whereabouts are unknown.  However, the court has certain strict requirements in such matters.  Contact us to find out more.

  • Divorcing a spouse who lives overseas / International Divorce

It is also possible to divorce a spouse who lives in another country.  However, you first need to obtain permission from our court to serve the divorce summons in a foreign country.  This is done through a special High Court application.  We have vast experience in this area of law.  We can assist you to find cost effective ways of divorcing a spouse who lives in another country.  Speak to us today.

  • Interim Maintenance (Rule 43 / Rule 58)  and  Spousal Maintenance

A contested divorce can take a long time to finalize. A Rule 43 (High Court) or Rule 58 (Magistrates Court) application is a useful way of obtaining interim relief while your divorce is still being finalized.  The interim relief can include:  care or contact with the child;  monthly maintenance for a spouse and/or children;  payment of certain monthly expenses (e.g. bond, motor vehicle expenses, school fees, medical aid);  and an interim contribution towards your legal fees for the divorce.  If you are in the midst of divorce proceedings and believe you and/or your children require an interim maintenance court order, contact us for advice and assistance.

A spouse does not have an automatic right to maintenance upon divorce. A spouse must thus prove that he/she is entitled to post-divorce maintenance.  There are several factors that a court will consider when awarding spousal maintenance.  Contact us today for assistance with all your maintenance queries.

  • Child Maintenance

A child is entitled to reasonable maintenance for his/her needs (and where applicable, for recreation expenses as well). Both parents have a duty to maintain a child according to their respective means.  We can help you calculate what amount would be  ‘reasonable’  to claim (or pay) in a child maintenance application, based on a family’s standard of living, their income and their cost of living. We have vast experience at Maintenance Court (i.e. section 6 and section 10 inquiries).  If you wish to apply for child maintenance or need to respond to a maintenance claim that has been brought against you, please contact us today.

  • Parenting Plans (“custody” and “access” matters)

A parenting plan is an agreement signed by both parents after separation or during divorce. It is an extremely useful mechanism to protect the best interests of a minor child. A well-drafted parenting plan can resolve and/or minimize disputes regarding the child’s primary residence and care, as well as the contact (i.e. “access”) that the ‘non-resident parent’ will enjoy with the child.

Parents can have a parenting plan made an order of court irrespective of whether they are lawfully married to each other.

Where it appears that the existing parenting plan is no longer serving the bests interests of the child, we can bring an application to amend the parenting plan.

If you are undergoing a separation or divorce, contact us today for assistance with a parenting plan.

  • Co-guardianship Applications by third parties

Occasionally there are cases where both parents are unable to exercise their parental rights and responsibilities due to factors such as imprisonment, prolonged unemployment or unsuccessful drug rehabilitation.  Fortunately, foster care and adoption are not the only solution in such cases!  With the consent of both parents, certain third parties (e.g. friends of the family) can obtain a court order granting them co-guardianship and primary residence of the child.  This court order grants the “intended co-guardians” the necessary legal authority to deal with important matters affecting the child such as school enrolments, medical aid membership, hospitalizations and consent for emergency surgery.  We are passionate about these matters and can assist with the necessary court application.

Do you require assistance with a divorce, child law or family law matter?  Contact us today.


Fill in your details below