If you or your spouse have any legal connections to Uganda and wish to divorce in the UK your link to Uganda may have an impact on your final financial settlement and arrangements for your children. Our team of international divorce lawyers regularly advises people in this position, who are seeking divorce in England, ensuring that their rights in terms of property division and access to children are protected fully.

Uganda’s family law system has been influenced to a degree by the nation’s British colonial past. But more significantly the rules have been developed in line with local custom. Here we look at the divorce process in Uganda and touch on the key issues you may wish to consider if there is a Ugandan angle to the dissolution of your marriage.

Uganda’s Divorce And Family Legislation

Uganda’s Marriage Act recognises civil, Muslim, church, Hindu and customary marriages. The UN reports that, despite a constitutional guarantee of equality, in practice Ugandan family and divorce law discriminates against women. The Marriage and Divorce Bill has been before the Ugandan parliament for several years without being approved. If passed it would represent a strengthening of the equality principle because it provides for guarantees regarding consent to marriage and the age when a marriage can be entered into. The proposed legislation also envisages a regime of equal property rights on divorce.

Grounds For Divorce In Uganda

A husband may seek a divorce on the grounds of his wife’s adultery. A wife needs to establish adultery and/or desertion for upwards of two years.  In the case of a Christian marriage a wife can also seek a divorce of her husband renounces her Christianity.

Any Ugandan resident can apply for a divorce. If one spouse is not African the petition must be lodged in the High Court (as opposed to a lower court for divorces between spouses of African nationality).  The steps are as follows:

  • Filing of supporting documentation regarding finances and children,
  • A summons is issued to both parties,
  • A response to the petition is made by the respondent in the proceedings,
  • Mediation
  • Court hearing
  • Issuing of decree nisi
  • Issuing of the decree absolute

Arrangements For Children In Ugandan Divorce

The Divorce Act enables courts to make ‘such order as it sees fit’ regarding

the custody, maintenance and education of minor children. In practice couples rely heavily on mediation to agree matters regarding children, enabling them to avoid the costs and uncertainty of court proceedings.

How Is Property Divided In Uganda?

Uganda’s Constitution and Land Act gives men and women equal rights to own land and property. Marriage in Uganda doesn’t remove this right.

On divorce, courts can make various orders in relation to property, including that the wife retains the matrimonial home and property division orders where property is sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses. In reaching any decision courts have regard to:

  • Ensuring fair treatment of all parties
  • Guaranteeing a just outcome for both sides irrespective of social or economic status
  • Promoting reconciliation in the case of customary marriages

In practise when it comes to division of property on divorce it’s not unusual for women to forfeit property – even solely owned property. This is because of the ways certain customs and traditions in Uganda dictate that women cannot own property or can do so only to a limited extent. Where the marriage is a customary one, property rights are determined according to the customs of a specific tribe or community.

Advice On Ugandan Family Law

If you or your spouse have a connection to Uganda and are seeking divorce in England, it’s essential to get advice from an experienced international lawyer. Any Ugandan resident can initiate divorce there. If you wish the English courts to decide the details of your divorce settlement it may be necessary to start proceedings in the UK as a matter of urgency before your spouse starts a Ugandan divorce.

At Brookman we represent a broad range of international clients. Even if we have not dealt directly with Ugandan cases our international experience enables us to provide robust legal guidance on any international aspects of your divorce when you need it.

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We are a specialist divorce and international divorce family law team, advising clients in the United Kingdom (specifically England and Wales) and throughout the world. We have a very people–orientated approach to working with clients. Henry Brookman has practised law for over 45 years, and our team has a wide range of skills and expertise. We are recommended by the Legal 500 and have been awarded the Law Society’s quality mark, Lexcel.

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Henry Brookman

With over 45 years' experience, Henry Brookman is the senior member of the team. He is described by The Legal 500 as ‘shrewd, savvy, sagacious and highly experienced’.

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Philip Morton

Recommended by The Legal 500, Philip is an expert in all areas of family law, including domestic and international financial disputes, fraud and commercial dispute resolution.

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Natasha Slabas

Expert in all areas of family law, often involving cases that have an international element, including work in relation to financial settlements following divorce.

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Aziz Malik

Aziz is a Partner at the firm and is highly regarded for his expertise on financial matters in divorce and is recommended by the Legal 500.

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Mark Rennie

Mark is the Group Head of the Horsham Family Law team. He specialises in all areas of matrimonial law, including complex divorce and financial disputes, and is recommended by The Legal 500.

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Nigel Winter

A highly experienced solicitor, Nigel has expertise in collaborative law, divorce, contested litigation, relationship agreements, and children matters. Nigel is recommended by The Legal 500.

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Partner at our Guildford office and recommended by The Legal 500, Samantha has specialist expertise in divorce, children matters, complex international cases, and is a trained mediator.

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Amanda is a highly experienced family law partner providing expert advice on all aspects of family law, divorce and separation with an emphasis on financial remedy cases.

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Alicia is a Partner in the family team and advises on all elements of family law, particularly private children work, including matters with an international element such as relocation.

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Family law specialist based in Brighton advising on divorce, cohabitation agreements, children, post-nuptial agreements, and domestic violence. Joanna is recommended by The Legal 500.

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Kirsty Kelleher

Kirsty is a specialist family law solicitor recommended by The Legal 500. An expert in divorce, financial matters, child-related disputes and contentious probate cases.

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Kevin Danagher

Kevin specialises exclusively in family law, advising on all aspects of relationship breakdown, divorce, same sex marriage, marital agreements, and international family cases.

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Known for her sensitivity and discretion combined with significant expertise, Ella advises on all family issues including high-value and multi-jurisdiction divorce and complex financial and children matters.

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Gemma Garrett

Based in Horsham, Gemma is a specialist advising on all areas of family law including divorce and separation (often involving jurisdiction issues), complex financial matters, and children matters.

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Susan qualified as a solicitor in 1992 and is based at our Brighton office. She is a longstanding member of the Law Society Specialist Children Panel and Family Law Panel. Susan is also a trained Collaborative Lawyer.

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Lauren Moir

Lauren is a highly regarded specialist family law solicitor, based at our Guildford office. She advises on divorce, family finances, children matters, domestic abuse, cohabitee issues, and relationship agreements.

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Rachael Au

Rachael is a highly capable member of the family team in Brighton. She specialises in family law, advising on divorce, civil partnerships, financial matters, and children issues.

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