Divorce procedures in the court
What is judicial divorce? It is the legal ending (break-up) of a marriage which has broken down beyond reconciliation through a court process. By law all marriages performed under the Marriage Ordinance can be broken only by judicial divorce and not by any other means.
It is possible to terminate customary law marriage by application to court under Matrimonial Causes Act, in which case grounds for divorce include those recognised in personal law of the parties in addition to those enumerated in the Act. Under the Act, divorce may only be granted if court concludes irreparable breakdown. Courts hearing suits for divorce among Muslims are directed to apply Matrimonial Causes Act directing guidance by justice, equity and good conscience in determination of post-divorce reliefs and custody.
In accordance with the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1971 (Act 367) a petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage and the sole ground for granting a petition for divorce shall be that the marriage has broken down beyond reconciliation.
For the purpose of showing that the marriage has broken down beyond reconciliation the petitioner shall satisfy the court of one or more of the following facts:—
(a) that the respondent has committed adultery and that by reason of such adultery the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent; or
(b) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent; or
(c) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or
(d) that the parties to the marriage have not lived as man and wife for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to the grant of a decree of divorce; provided that such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, and where the Court is satisfied that it has been so withheld, the Court may grant a petition for divorce under this paragraph notwithstanding the refusal; or
(e) that the parties to the marriage have not lived as man and wife for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition; or
(f) that the parties to the marriage have, after diligent effort, been unable to reconcile their differences.
Any of the partners in a marriage legally has a right to institute divorce petition in the law court for dissolution of the marriage they have contracted