If you or your spouse has a connection to Zambia and you are contemplating divorce it’s essential to consider international aspects of law as they relate to your divorce. We advise individuals from around the world family law in England, including divorce, financial settlements and arrangements for children. For clients with a link to Zambia – perhaps they were married in the country but have lived in the UK for several years, maybe one or both spouses is a Zambian national – our team provides advice specific to your situation to help give you the best chance of securing a fair divorce settlement.
Here we highlight some aspects of the Zambian law on divorce to illustrate the differences between the system there and the approach taken in family law matters by the courts in England and Wales. .
Grounds For Divorce In Zambia
Section 8 of the Zambian Matrimonial Causes Act gives men and women equal rights to petition the High Court of Zambia for divorce. The sole ground for divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The person seeking a divorce can establish this by providing evidence of one or more of the following:
- The respondent has committed adultery
- The respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her
- The respondent has deserted for a continuous period of at least two years
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years and the respondent consents to a decree being granted
- That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years
Parties can only divorce after 12 months of marriage and one party must either be domiciled in Zambia or have lived there for a year before presenting the divorce petition.
Children And Zambian Divorce
Custody of children following divorce in Zambia is decided in the best interests of the child. That said, in practice custody is more often than not granted to the father. Courts are also empowered to issue maintenance orders in respect of children if a parent is concerned by the other parent’s failure to sufficiently provide for the child. A parent who doesn’t comply with a child maintenance order can face criminal prosecution.
Maintenance And Property Division
Zambian courts have the ability to issue maintenance orders in favour of former spouses on divorce. The order can be for a maximum of three years following the end of the marriage, and the obligation to pay maintenance ceases of the receiving spouse remarries.
When it comes to division of property the courts do have power to make property adjustment orders under the Matrimonial Causes act and can take into consideration direct and indirect contributions to the acquisition of the property. In practice however the approach to property on divorce is uncertain. In some instances property is shared, in others it’s kept separate.
Customary Law In Zambia
We’ve outlined the way civil courts approach divorce in Zambia. In some ways the rules are similar to those in England and Wales. But it’s important to remember that many marriages in Zambia are contracted under local, traditional or customary law. Such marriages are dissolved by local courts. These apply different grounds for divorce, take a distinct approach to child custody and also adopt different methods of dividing property.
Advice On Divorce Law In Zambia
If you or your spouse have any legal connection to Zambia and are seeking divorce in England, it’s important to get advice from an international divorce lawyer if your marriage has broken down.
At Brookman, while we may not have dealt directly with Zambian divorce law our understanding of contrasting legal systems across the world means we can advise you on all relevant issues affecting your divorce.
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