Edictal Citation

Edictal Citation

When the Spouse you want to Divorce lives in another country, the High Court or the Regional Court must be approached for permission to serve Divorce documents on the Spouse in the foreign country. This is done by means of an Edictal Citation which is drafted and applied for by your Specialist Divorce Lawyers.

Divorce and Family Law is the fields of Law where the parties in question must be served in person. Because of this, the Court must be content that although this is being done in a foreign country by an official of Court, it is still being done correctly.

Therefore, an Edictal Citation is a process whereby permission is granted by the appropriate South African Court to have Divorce documents served by a Court Official overseas. They could be known as Sheriffs, Service Processors or even Solicitors.

It is not unusual nowadays for a couple to become married in one country, live in another country and become divorced in yet another country.

In spite of all of the above, even in these modern times, when dealing with Divorce and Family Law, a Summons can usually only be served in person and not by e-mail, registered post or any other form. This is further discussed in Substituted Service

Edictal Citation is applicable if:

  • You need a Divorce from your Spouse overseas; Service can take place at their home or workplace etc.
  • You need a Divorce from your Spouse who lives overseas but disappeared: the Court has the power to grant a form of Substituted Service, i.e. Service upon a relative or maybe Attorneys who acted for the missing Spouse whilst that Spouse was in South Africa, etc.

To do this, you must meet the Court’s criteria:

  • You must be living within the Court’s jurisdictional area on the date Divorce Proceedings begin.
  • It is your usual place of residence/domicile
  • You must have been living there for at least one year immediately prior to the date of Application.

If your Spouse is missing; through your Edictal Citation Application you will have to show the Court that you have done everything within your power to trace your absent Spouse. The reason for this is the issue about the need for personal service. Your Application will have to satisfy the Court that you have exhausted all the conventional methods of locating the Spouse who has disappeared.

So if your Divorce Summons is to be served overseas, the Court must first be caused to understand that it is the only way to have the Summons served. Your Application must give full details of the person who will be appointed to do the Service, i.e. the Sheriff, Service Processor or Solicitor, in the foreign country. This means you must correspond with these people in the foreign country and post the necessary documents to them.

After the Service of the Summons, in the foreign country, your Spouse will have a month to defend the Action. If your Spouse ignored the Summons, or, if your Spouse defends it; once the financial and other Settlement terms have been reached, the matter may be set down for Hearing. The date of Hearing will be pre-arranged with the Registrar of the High Court or of the Regional Court.