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By: Selma Taapopi

The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will be the only ground for divorce, and both parties to a marriage may jointly institute divorce proceedings on the ground of the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, whereby the court may then grant a divorce.

This forms part of many other reforms to the Divorce Bill tabled in the National Assembly in the capital on Tuesday by justice minister Yvonne Dausab.

The Divorce Bill, among others, also provides for the division of assets, maintenance of a child of the marriage, spousal maintenance, custody and guardianship of or access to children, and periodical allowances.

While presenting her ministerial motivation on the Divorce Bill, Dausab stated that the bill aims to consolidate and reform an outdated law concerning divorces related to civil marriages in the country.

She further stressed that the proposed reforms are not aimed at making divorce easier to break families apart, but rather seeks to address the reality that current divorce laws may not adequately support individuals in untenable and harmful marital situations.

“People have a constitutional right to choose whether they want to remain in marriage. No religion, moral belief system or law should force them to stay married. The intention is not to undermine the institution of marriage but to provide a legal framework that offers necessary relief and protection to those in desperate situations such as victims of domestic abuse or irreparable marital breakdowns,” remarked Dausab.

Making contributions to the Divorce Bill, member of parliament and Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Veiko Nekundi took issue with the contribution of spousal maintenance, stating that once a divorce is carried out between two parties, they should no longer be considered spouses.

Therefor the issue of spousal maintenance cannot be sustained and made into law: “When divorce tricks (kicks) in, there is no more spouse, can only be an ex. You can’t be my spouse after we are divorced. So, I cannot maintain my ex, it’s just something wrong.

Honorable speaker, honorable members, it cannot be sustained, and we cannot make it a law and it can be subject to abuse by the courts, by the judges because we now believe also that judges are independent,” Nekundi stressed.

Extensive consultations with the relevant stakeholders including churches took place nationwide before the tabling of the Divorce Bill.

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