How to apply for divorce in Kenya: Divorce process in Kenya
Whenever a couple exchange vows before God and men, the marriage is expected to last until death separates them. However, this is not always the case, because one of them may suffer cruelty and degrading mistreatment in the hands of an abusive partner.
In such a case, the courts may intervene and put an end to the marital union in what is called a divorce.
But before a married couple can be granted a marriage divorce, the suffering party must, beyond reasonable doubt, prove to the courts that there are ample grounds for a divorce. This article looks are the process of divorce in Kenya.
The ease or difficulty of a divorce case depends on your knowledge of what the Kenyan law says about divorce. In this article, we shall explore everything you need to know about the process of divorce in Kenya according to the law, grounds for divorce as well as the process of divorce in Kenya.
Divorce in Kenya is clearly stipulated in the Marriage Act which defines how a marriage is dissolved. According to this act, the grounds for divorce are similar for various types of marriages.
The Act provides that
- A divorce in Christian marriages is allowed if one of the spouses engages in adulterous acts or cruel mistreatment which could cause either physical or mental torture on the other party or their children.
- A divorce in a civil marriage can be granted after the years of marriage. The grounds for dissolution of a civil marriage included but not limited to cruelty, infidelity or where a partner deserts a spouse for at least three years
- In customary marriage, divorce can be granted on grounds of abandonment, adultery, exceptional depravity or in the event of permanent failure of marriage or any other valid ground put forth by a petitioner.
- Divorce under Hindu marriages is granted in case a spouse deserts a partner, irreparable damage to the marriage, or where one party converts to another. Other grounds are adultery, sodomy or abuse.
- In Islam, divorce is done under the Sheikh and Islamic law and Imams make the final decree in dissolving marriages.
What are the grounds for a divorce in Kenya
- If a spouse is cruel to a partner or their child or children
- If a partner is adulterous.
- Where a spouse neglects or deserts a partner for at least 3 years.
- A couple separated either voluntary or by court order for a period not less than two years.
- Where a partner is sentenced for a term exceeding 7 years or life imprisonment.
- Any other grounds that the court may deem justifiable.
The Process of divorce in Kenya
Kenyan law allows married couples to divorce, but it is a lengthy, tiring and expensive procedure, despite the high fees charged by divorce lawyers. As such, make sure the matrimonial union can not be saved in any other way before embarking on this path.
And how long will a divorce process in Kenya take? Well, you may ask.
There are many factors that will either slow or slow down the divorce process in Kenya. There are also other factors that the parties to the divorce can influence while others remain outside their influence
Divorce wait time
Parties to a divorce are subject to mandatory wait time where the couple must have lived separately for sometime before filing for a divorce.
In addition, there is a mandatory waiting period from the time of filing a divorce in court to when the court makes a judgement.
According to the Kenyan law, this period is usually three to 12 months.
The waiting period gives the couple time to rethink whether indeed they need or a divorce or they can mend their differences and back out of separation.
The waiting period also gives children –if any–time to adapt and parents also learn to co-parent .
Degree of Conflict
The other factor that decides how long a divorce process takes will take is the extend of dispute at hand bringing about the divorce. That is to say, that if the couple consent and the divorce is undisputed, the termination may be effected immediately after the required waiting period has expired.
On the other hand, if the partners disagree on other contentious issues such as child custody, distribution of property or child support, the divorce process can take quite longer.
Complexity of the divorce
The nature of the divorce is another aspect that influences the duration of the divorce. That is because there are severe parental issues, ownership of substantial properties, and problems of nationality concerning the breakup of marriages. There, the courts must take time to collect adequate facts in order to make the correct decision in respect of all parties.
Steps to follow when filing for a divorce
The first step in applying for divorce is to ensure that the reasons are compatible with those set out in the Kenyan Marriage Act as grounds for divorce.
You ought to employ a competent divorce lawyer to argue your case in the court. A divorce revolves around child custody, sharing of matrimonial property and maintenance fees, so getting a good lawyer ensures faster and better outcomes.
After the counsel presents the case to the courts, you and your partner will be given six months to determine whether to reconcile or continue with the divorce. During this waiting time, a couple seeking divorce is encouraged to seek guidance from marriage counselors or village elders.
After six months have lapsed, the couples appear before the court to discuss matters relating to child custody and sharing of wealth. The court will hear the parties and make a decision. Upon the divorce, each partner is directed to what to do and then to pay the divorce lawyers their fees. In certain cases, both the DNA test and title deeds can be needed for proof of ownership.