Your divorce settlement and arrangements for your children could be affected if you or your spouse are connected in any way to another legal jurisdiction such as Papua New Guinea. In particular if you were married there or you or your spouse are nationals of the country but you are seeking a divorce in England, you should consider getting advice from international divorce lawyers before you start the process.
We represent individuals going through divorce all over the world ensuring their position is robustly protected. Recent legislation in Papua New Guinea has gone some way towards balancing the rights of spouses on divorce. There are however significant differences in approach of the courts there and the courts in England and Wales when it comes to deciding issues around divorce. In the UK judges have a wide discretion to ensure the financially weaker spouse is awarded a fair share of marital property.
Here we provide a short introduction to the family law system in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea’s Divorce And Family Legislation
Customary Marriage and Divorce – Marriages and divorce under local custom remain relatively common in Papua New Guinea. The country’s constitution (section 9 (f)) formally recognises custom as part of the underlying legal system and customary ways of dealing with divorce, financial claims and child custody are all generally accepted.
Statutory Marriages – The 1963 Matrimonial Causes Act and more recent pieces of legislation don’t apply to the customary marriages we’ve mentioned. Under the legislation men and women both have the same rights to issue a divorce petition that must be based on one if the 14 ‘faults’ listed in the Act. Grounds include adultery, desertion and non-consummation of the marriage.
While men and women had the same formal rights under the 1963 Act, in practise there was a perceived unfairness to women and children in many divorce settlements. Amendments to the Divorce Act in 2018 – according to Papua New Guinea’s Commission on Law Reform – are significant. For example, an innocent party to a divorce may now claim half of marital savings and assets
Advice On Papua New Guinea Divorce
If you or your spouse have a connection to Papua New Guinea it’s important to consider getting advice from an experienced international lawyer before you divorce. You may wish for example to issue proceedings in the English courts before your spouse starts the divorce process in Papua New Guinea.
At Brookman we represent a wide range of international clients. Even if we have not dealt directly with cases with a Papua New Guinea aspect before, our international experience enables us to provide highly effective legal support on the key international issues in your divorce that could affect the eventual outcome.
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