When spouses of different nationalities divorce or when either party has a legal connection to more than one country there is always a question over which country’s law will decide issues around the separation. Brookman advises clients on divorce and family matters under English law and where the marriage may also have a connection with another country, such as Cameroon. Please note that as we can only provide advice in relation to English law, your circumstances must be connected to England or Wales in some way, such as you or your spouse is English, you live in England, or you have assets in the United Kingdom.
As international family lawyers we regularly act for clients in this situation. Our legal support can extend to clients with links to Cameroon and other African nations, including people resident in the UK who married in Cameroon or UK nationals married to a Cameroonian. Here we examine some of aspects of law in Cameroon that could be relevant to your divorce.
The Family Law System In Cameroon
By way of background it’s worth noting that the legal system of Cameroon derives largely from the French legal system. It is also influenced to a degree by English common law. The laws relating to divorce are set out in the Civil Code, but Cameroon is almost unique in recognising customs of the country – legal cases in many areas may be decided using local custom handed down through the generations. In practice therefore there is a ‘dual’ legal system: Divorce and other family law disputes may often be decided using ‘native law’ in conjunction with the Civil Code.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce In Cameroon?
The Civil Code is slanted toward the rights of the husband. It states that the husband is the ‘head of the household’ and he can decide issues such as the family’s domicile. In addition legislation allows a husband in Cameroon to have up to four wives and gives him more leeway when adultery is alleged or where he needs to prove it for divorce purposes.
Husbands and wives can both initiate divorce proceedings. Courts will grant a divorce where:
- There is mutual consent
- One spouse has deserted the other for a period of one year
- Married life has broken down
- There is fault on the part if one spouse
In some areas a husband may be granted a divorce under traditional rules without having to provide any reason or justification.
Child Arrangements Following Cameroonian Divorce
The Civil Code states that divorce or separation has no bearing on parental authority – each parent is required to respect the interests of the other as far the child’s upbringing goes. That said, the courts have the power to make orders deviating from this shared responsibility if it’s in the best interests of the child.
Before marriage couples may choose to own property jointly or separately and courts will divide property in accordance with the chosen regime at the time of divorce. In some regions elements of English family law and French law may be applied if there is a dispute over property. However these less discriminatory rules are undermined in practice by the fact that Cameroonian women often face pressure to renounce property rights on divorce.
How We Can Help With Your International Divorce
Brookman has extensive knowledge of international legal systems, regularly representing individuals from all over the world. Whilst we haven’t had direct dealings with the legal system in Cameroon our international expertise means we can offer practical advice and support if you are divorcing and you or your spouse is connected in some way to Cameroon and to England.
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