Answer to a question from a reader

How can I get Home Affairs to process my divorce quicker?

The short answer

Home Affairs can only be compelled to act by a court order that finds the delay is unreasonable

The whole question

I have been divorced four years now and I have been struggling to get my status updated for two years. Every time I check my status it still reflects I am married to my ex-husband.
My attempts to contact people in the Department of Home Affairs to help me get my status updated have not succeeded. I am truly fed up with Home Affairs and need assistance.
My fiancé and I cannot get married as long as this is hanging in the air.

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking how you can get Home Affairs to amend your marital status from married to divorced so that you can marry your fiancé.

It is appalling that you have been struggling for two years to amend your marital status - something which is supposed to take three months from the time you have taken your divorce certificate to Home Affairs - but sadly it is not unusual.

A great many people are experiencing the same maddening and unexplained delays in getting documentation amended by Home Affairs. It seems that there is a very large backlog of cases and they don’t have the staff and resources to deal with it effectively.

The only way Home Affairs could be compelled to amend your marital status more speedily is if a court found the delay unreasonable and ordered the Minister of Home Affairs to issue it within a given period of time. This would mean engaging lawyers, which would usually be expensive, unless they were prepared to do it pro bono.

You could also contact Lawyers for Human Rights, which have taken up many cases involving Home Affairs. You can contact them at 011 339 1960 in Johannesburg, or email them at

Answered on Nov. 26, 2019, 11:49 a.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.