When a married couple has links to the UK as well as another country the questions of property division, maintenance and child arrangements following divorce sometimes have an added degree of complexity. This is down to the interplay between the laws of different legal jurisdictions and which country’s courts actually decide the issues. We are a firm of international divorce solicitors and can represent people based in the UK with connections to Angola who are considering divorce, or expats who are living in Angola, or those who got married in Angola but reside in the UK. Here we look at some aspects of Angolan family law that may have an impact on your divorce.
Getting Divorced In Angola
Angola is a former Portuguese colony. Following independence in 1975 it inherited elements of Portugal’s civil law system, and there is a comprehensive Family Code that sets out the rules on divorce. Although some minority groups in certain regions of the country don’t recognise the concept of divorce, Article 78 of the Family Code allows either spouse to issue a petition for divorce. It is widely drawn and states:
Spouses may petition for divorce in the event of the complete and irremediable deterioration of the principles on which their union was based, when the marriage has lost its meaning for the spouses, for the children and for society.
In practice it is usually the husband who initiates divorce in Angola, largely because the majority of women aren’t financially independent and are therefore reluctant in many cases to leave their husbands.
How Is Property Divided In Angolan Divorce?
Article 49 of the Family Code indicates that property acquired after marriage is treated as common (joint) property on divorce. Income generated during a marriage (whether from jointly held or individually owned property) is treated as joint income.
A degree of uncertainty about how property in Angola is divided on divorce exists because despite what Article 49 says the Family Code also states that when deciding ownership of the family home – usually the largest asset – the court must take into account:
- The ‘life conditions’ of the spouse
- The children
- Causes of the divorce
It’s unclear how this requirement sits with the general community property regime specified in Article 49.
Children And Angolan Divorce
According to the Family Code both parents have equal responsibility when it comes to supporting children. Article 127 states simply:
Father and mothers hold, in respect of their children, equal duties and rights.
Even if the mother retains custody of the children following divorce the father is still obliged to pay child maintenance.
Advice On Divorce In Angola
With some of the uncertainties around property division following Angolan divorce that we have looked at, it’s essential to get specialist legal advice if your divorce has any kind of connection to Angola. If it is an option, you may well be better off if you divorce under English law, using a team such as Brookman to provide expert international family law expertise. Even though we have not handled Angolan divorces directly at the time of writing, our expertise in dealing with a variety of legal systems gives us the ability to advise you effectively on the relevant rules and legislation.
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