If you or your spouse have links to Tanzania but you are seeking divorce or family law advice under English law, you should seek a specialist firm. Brookman acts regularly for individuals in this type of situation and can advise on all aspects of international divorce, including maintenance disputes, property division and arrangements for any children of the marriage.
While Tanzania’s family law system is based on the English common law system there is significant divergence when it comes to family law matters. For information, we’ve set out a brief outline of divorce and family law issues in Tanzania.
Tanzania’s Law Of Marriage Act
The Law of Marriage Act, (LMA), updated in 2019, is the main legislation governing marriage and divorce. Those domiciled in Tanzania and those resident in the country for at least a year can petition the court for divorce. In essence the courts will only grant a divorce if it is satisfied that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This can be shown in a number of ways, including:
- Proof of adultery
- Cruelty (mental or physical) inflicted by a spouse on the other or on any children of the marriage
- Wilful neglect of one spouse by the other
The LMA states that, save in cases of exceptional hardship, a petition of divorce can’t be issued until two years have expired since the marriage. Additionally couples must refer themselves to a matrimonial Board to try to settle their marital differences. Only when the Board certifies that the parties can’t reconcile can divorce proceedings begin.
Arrangements For Children
Following divorce, both parents usually remain responsible for their children.
In deciding which parent a child should reside with (custody) the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration. Subject to this the courts will also bear in mind the:
- Wishes of the parents of the child;
- Wishes of the child, where he or she is of an age to express an independent opinion
- Customs of the community to which the parties belong.
There is a rebuttable presumption that children under seven should reside with their mother. Finally, in exceptional circumstances courts can make an order that it is ‘undesirable’ for a child to be entrusted to either parent.
Property Division In Tanzania
Property acquired in the sole name of a spouse during marriage is regarded as the exclusive property of that spouse on divorce. Property acquired in joint names during marriage is generally regarded as being owned in equal shares.
Precise distribution of financial assets not owned in equal shares or solely by one spouse following a divorce in Tanzania involves an assessment of each spouse’s contribution to the household during the marriage. However the courts have shown themselves reluctant to include a woman’s unpaid contributions to the household when calculating spousal contributions to marital assets.
If you or your spouse have a connection to Tanzania, it’s essential to get advice from an experienced international lawyer if you are considering divorce. Often the outcome for the financially weaker spouse will be more satisfactory if English courts have the final say on financial and other issues. You may want to issue proceedings here quickly as a result and Brookman is bets placed to help you.
At Brookman we represent clients from across the globe. Even if we have not dealt specifically with Tanzania family law at the time of writing, our experience dealing with widely differing legal systems means we are well-placed to offer you detailed advice on your divorce in the UK and any cross border issues that may arise.
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