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 contacted marriage to an end and resolving custody of children cases. 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.
Divorce in Cameroon
A marriage is said to have broken down irretrievably where the petitioner established any of the under listed grounds in court:
Non – Consummation of the marriage
That one of the spouse has committed adultery
That since the marriage, the behavior of one of the spouses is intolerable
Desertion of one of the spouse for a continuous period of one year
That the spouses have lived apart for a continuous period of two years immediately before the petition and the respondent does not object
Absence of one of the spouse for a long time to be presume absence.
The basis of Cameroonian court assuming jurisdiction is domicile which is determine by matrimonial home of the spouse and the appropriate court is the High Court.
“Should I get a divorce” is the most widely asked question by a spouse who is in doubt who is in doubt on whether to institute a divorce case. Some decisive criteria s 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 .
The legal practitioner is duty bound to ascertain whether the spouses signed joint property so as to determine division , whether there are children in the marriage to determine custody and copy of the marriage certificate. The legal practitioner shall then proceed to draft the under listed documents , file at the high court registry after payment of statutory fee:-
1 .Copy of the divorce petition
2 .Verifying affidavit
3 .certificate of reconciliation
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
Custody of Children
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 is 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.
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.