Divorce Proceedings in Uganda.
A husband or wife may present a petition for divorce to court praying for the marriage to be dissolved. Like all claims of a civil nature, divorce is instituted in a court with jurisdiction where the petitioner ordinarily resides. Where all parties to the petition are African, then the petition may be filed in a Chief Magistrate's court. Where one of the parties is not African, then the petition must be filed in the High Court. Any person who is a resident in Uganda may file a divorce.One can get a divorce if the relationship has permanently broken down.
The following steps are taken
- Filling a PetitionA person who petitions for divorce is called a petitioner while the party against whom the petition is brought is called a respondent. A Petition is a document stating the petitioner's claim against the respondent and what he/she wishes court to do for him/her.
- Supporting Documents to the PetitionThe petition must be supported by a Summary of Evidence, list of documents, witnesses and authorities that the petitioner intends to rely on.The requisite filing fees for filling a petition (UGX 6,000) must be paid in the bank and evidence of payment attached to the petition.
- SummonsPetitioner then extracts a Summons from court requiring the respondent to either file a defence or appear in court on a day specified therein and serves it together with the petition on the respondent within 21 days after court issues the summons.Once the summons is served on the respondent, the petitioner must file an affidavit of service in court clearly stating how he/she served it on the respondent.
- Answer to the petitionUpon receipt of the summons and petition, the respondent is required to file a an Answer to the Petition within 15 days from the date of receipt of the summons.The answer to the petition must be supported by a Summary of Evidence, list of documents, witnesses and authorities the respondent intends to rely on.The answer to the petition and all its accompaniments must be served on the petitioner by the respondent.The parties to the petition will then be referred to mediation by the court.
- MediationIf the mediation fails, the case then proceeds to a scheduling conference where the parties agree on the issues to be resolved in court. Here the petitioner and respondent file a Scheduling Memorandum. After the scheduling conference, the petitioner then sets down the case for hearing by giving a Hearing Notice to the respondent.
- HearingIn scenarios where the respondent fails to file an answer to the petition within the 15 days, then the petitioner may set down the suit for hearing exparte where court will only hear the petitioner's case.At the hearing, the court will receive evidence from the petitioner in respect to his/her petition and the respondent in respect to his/her answer to the petition. After hearing from both parties or from only the petitioner where the respondent does not file an answer in reply, court will go ahead to grant a Decree Nisi.
- Decree NisiAfter the lapse of six months from the date on which the decree Nisi is issued, the petitioner then applies for the grant of a Decree Absolute which will completely dissolve the marriage.