If you reside in South Africa and wish to divorce a spouse that is living abroad you will need to file an application for an Edictal Citation. Whether you know their exact location or not, you have to be sure that they are residing in another country before you can apply for an Edictal Citation. With this application, you are asking for the court’s permission to serve a divorce summons on a spouse outside the borders of South Africa. Unless permission is granted by a Court, any documents that institute legal proceedings cannot be served outside of the country.


An Edictal Citation allows the Plaintiff to initiate divorce proceedings through South African courts. According to the Divorce Act 70 of 1979, a South African Court will have jurisdiction over the proceedings when either one of the parties resides within the area of the Court’s jurisdiction when the application is filed. A summons must be served on the Defendant in person unless the court has granted permission to deliver the summons via substituted service. Because of this, the Plaintiffs will be required to correspond with officials in the country where the Defendant resides and in their application, they have to list the details of the representative who will serve the summons. The person who serves the summons to the Defendant has to be a court official in a position that is similar to that of a Sheriff or Process Server in South Africa. 


Edictal Citation Application


In the application, the Plaintiff will have to clearly state the nature of their claim and the grounds on which the claim is based. They will have to convince the court that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and need to prove that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the application. The application is initiated by way of a notice of motion and is supported by an affidavit that details the Plaintiff's circumstances and the reason they are applying for an edictal citation. 


The Plaintiff has to demonstrate to the court that despite their best efforts, no agreement can be reached between the two parties and that previous attempts to serve their spouse with a summons have all failed. The court will then grant an order that allows the summons to be served outside of South Africa if the application is successful. Once the Defendant has been served with the summons they will typically have a month’s time to respond to it. 


Divorcing a spouse that is living overseas can be a costly and time-consuming process if you don’t have any assistance. At Cawood Attorneys, we have devised an innovative strategy to help speed up international divorces for our clients. We have a unique approach to edictal citations that allows us to bypass many of the time-consuming elements of the process and enables us to reduce the time it takes to complete the application, thereby lowering the costs as well. Contact Cawood Attorneys to book a consultation with one of our qualified attorneys and find out how we can assist you with your application.

Get Your FREE Telephonic ConsultationContact Us