How to get a divorce in Cameroon: the annulment of a marriage

HOW TO GET A DIVORCE IN CAMEROON – FREE GUIDE TOUCHING 3 DETERMINING FACTORS

INTRODUCTION ON HOW TO GET A DIVORCE IN CAMEROON

The procedure for divorce is complex, strict and legal. Marriage is an Institution ordained by God as the Holy Scriptures says “A man shall leave his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”. Divorce in Cameroon remains the only recognized legal way of bringing a lawfully contracted marriage to an end and determine custody of children.

The question how to get a divorce in Cameroon will be addressed in this article. It is important to know that in Cameroon, the sole ground for divorce in Cameroon is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The relevant divorce laws in Cameroon are; Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 read alongside Section 18 of Law No. 2006/015 of 29 December, 2006 as amended and supplemented by Law No. 2011/027 of 14 December, 2011 on Judicial Organization and the Family Procedure Rules, 2010.

RECOGNIZED GROUNDS FOR A DIVORCE IN CAMEROON

The circumstances under which a court may make a decree of dissolution of marriage are spelled out under S. 1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Under S. 1(1), the court may make a decree of dissolution of marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. As to what amounts to irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, S. 1(2). provides that the court may hold that a marriage has broken down irretrievably if, but only if, the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the following facts contained in S. 1(2) a-e of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

  1. That one of the spouses has committed adultery and the other finds that act intolerable to continue in the marriage thus a divorce in Cameroon is the only option. Adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than the persons spouse. The proof of adultery is very difficult as the act that constitute adultery is done in the most secret of places. It is in fact, the most discreet of human activities. Except in very rare cases, the parties are hardly caught in the act. The court entertaining a divorce in Cameroon would hold that adultery has been committed on circumstantial evidence.
  2. That since the marriage, one of the spouses have behaved in such a way that the other spouse cannot reasonably be expected continue in the marriage and a such a divorce in Cameroon is the only option
  3. Desertion of one of the spouses for a continuous period of two year immediately preceding the presentation of the petition
  4. That the spouses have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately before the petition and the other spouse consent for a divorce in Cameroon.
  5. That the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.

The basis of Cameroonian courts assuming jurisdiction is either domicile which is determine by matrimonial home of the spouse or residence of one of the spouses and finally the High Court in the place of celebration of marriage. Another interesting development in the procedure for divorce in Cameroon is that, the courts papers can be filed, entertained and judgement dissolving the marriage even if one or both of the parties aren’t in Cameroon.

“Should I get a divorce” is the most widely asked question by a spouse who is in doubt on whether to institute a divorce case. Some decisive criteria include: refusal to have sexual intercourse with your spouse without reasonable justification, continuous beating of your spouse, refusal to eat spouse food, unjustifiable late nights, marriage on deceit or misrepresentation.

PROCEDURE FOR DIVORCE IN CAMEROON

The procedure for divorce in Cameroon is strict and must be applied by an experience Family Attorney so as to obtain the required result. The Family Attorney is encouraged to engage in an interview with the supposed client so as to elicit the required information needed in preparing the divorce petition. The expert should request for a copy of the marriage certificate and a birth certificate in case there is a child in the marriage.

Custody of children must be ascertained before the court can divorce the marriage in Cameroon. In a case where the supposed party seeking a divorce is not in Cameroon, a certificate of residence should be established so as to invoke jurisdiction for the court to proceed. Here are the required documents to be prepared and filed in court to kick start the procedure for divorce in Cameroon.

  1. Copy of the divorce petition which shall contain the reasons and relief sought in the divorce in Cameroon.
  2. Verifying affidavit is a statement on oath confirming the facts contained in the petition
  3. certificate of reconciliation which must state that attempt to reconcile the parties have failed.

These documents must be served on the respondent personally by a bailiff so as to give him/her an opportunity to deny or admit the divorce before the court can make an ORDER NISI, ORDER ABSOLUTE and thereafter issue a CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE with a detail Judgement. In a case were the whereabout of one spouse is not known to the other, the divorce proceeding can still proceed as service can be affected via substituted means in line with the elementary civil procedure and the judgement arrived in line with the special matrimonial procedure rule will be valid.

Further In a case where the divorce petition is served on the other spouse and he is an agreement, it is my recommendation that the consent approach procedure be adopted. In Cameroon no spouse has the right to deny the other a divorce if there is sufficient evidence that the marriage has broken down irretrievable. The right to grant or refuse the grant of a divorce lies exclusively with the judge.

CUSTODY OF CHILDREN IN DIVORCE PROCEEDINGS

In considering the custody of children in a broken marriage, efforts must be made to ensure that such children are not denied the love, care and affection of either parent. Where one of the parents deliberately placed obstacles towards the attainment of such parental love and affection, he will be violating the right of the child under the child right Act.

The welfare of children of a marriage that has broken down irretrievably is not only of paramount consideration but a condition precedent for the award of custody. This invariably means that custody of children is never awarded as a reward for good conduct nor is it denied as punishment for the guilty party’s matrimonial offenses. In a situation where the children are of tender age, there is no assurance that custody of children will be granted to the mother.

To conclude, divorce in Cameroon remains the only recognized legal way of bringing a lawfully contacted marriage to an end.

Article By: Barr. Mafany Victor Ngando. 

Kinsmen Advocates

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.