Divorce, Its Process and Pecuniary Effects Under Ethiopian Law

In case you want to process divorce and need a divorce lawyer in Ethiopia, here are all the points you need to know about Ethiopian Divorce law. In Ethiopia, based on either of the following three causes a spouse or the divorce lawyer can request for dissolution of marriage in Ethiopia.

  1. Death of one of the spouses or declaration of absence, by the court, of one of the spouses or.
  2. When one of the essential conditions of a marriage is violated.
  3. Divorce

The divorce lawyer  can apply for divorce when the spouses mutually agree or consent divorce and such agreement is accepted by the court or when one of the spouse or the divorce attorney petition for divorce to court.

1.Divorce by Mutual Consent

When the spouses agreed to divorce by mutual consent, such agreement, which will also regulate the consequences of the divorce, must be submitted in writing to the court for approval. However, divorce by mutual consent does not apply to a marriage aged less than six months. In such petition a spouse or the divorce lawyer is not obliged to state the reason of the divorce.

The court may not necessarily grant divorce decision immediately. Family courts have the right to discuss with the spouses separately or jointly and counsel them to renounce their intention to divorce. Further the court may grant a cooling period, not exceeding three months, to the spouses. If the spouses did not change their intention, they can reapply to the court for approval of the divorce within six months from the last date of cooling period. But nothing shall prevent the spouses or the divorce lawyer from submitting a new petition for divorce.

If the agreement to divorce is the true expression of the intention and free consent of the spouses and is not contrary to law and morality the court shall approve the divorce. When the court approves the divorce, it shall also approve the conditions of the divorce agreed between the spouses. Here the interest and wellbeing of their children is strictly considered by the court. If the agreement on the conditions of divorce doesn’t sufficiently protect the interest and wellbeing of the children or even where it adversely affects the interest of one of the spouses the court may approve, only the divorce agreement and give decisions it may deem appropriate to correct the defects of the conditions of divorce.

2. Divorce by Petition

The spouses conjointly or one of them, through a divorce attorney or by themselves, can submit petition for divorce to the Ethiopian Family court. They can include the reasons for divorce in the petition. The court shall speak to the spouses separately or conjointly with a view of persuading them renounces the petition for divorce and tries to solve their dispute amicably. If this attempt fails, the court may direct the spouses to settle their dispute through arbitrators of their own choice. When this did not work the court may dismiss the spouses by giving them a cooling period of up to three months. Where all the efforts made before, have failed, the court shall pronounce divorce within one month from the receipt of the reports of arbitrators or the end of the cooling period, as the case maybe.

From the time the petition for divorce is brought before it, the court shall forthwith give appropriate order regarding custody of children, maintenance, and the management of property. Sometimes circumstances may force one of the spouses to leave their common abode. During such case, the court shall take into consideration the interest of children and the condition of the spouse who may be affected more by leaving their common abode, when giving the above order.

When divorce is made by petition, the court shall request the spouses to agree on the conditions of divorce. When they are not willing to agree the court shall, by itself, or through arbitrators, or experts appointed by it, or by another means it thinks appropriate, decide on the conditions of divorce. The conditions of marriage agreed by the spouses or decided by arbitrators or experts shall be submitted to the court for approval. The court may postpone the judgment on the conditions of the divorce for not more than six months after deciding on the divorce. When justice so requires and when the cause of the divorce is attributable to one of the spouses, the court may order such spouse to make good the damage sustained by the other spouse.

The Two Common Effects of Divorce: The two common effects of marriage are its pecuniary effect and its effect on children.

  1. Pecuniary Effects of Divorce

It is good to note that the pecuniary effect of divorce is the most sensitive area that usually results in countless court litigations. So here are the pecuniary effects of marriage.

If the spouses have an agreement in their contract of marriage (prenuptial agreement) the pecuniary relation shall be liquidated according to the prenup agreement. If not, each spouse is entitled to retake one’s personal property at first and common property shall be divided equally between the spouses.

Personal Property Vs Common Property

The property acquired on and after the day of marriage by succession or donation shall remain personal property.

Property acquired by onerous title, by one of a spouses after marriage shall also be personal property, where such acquisition has been acquired in exchange for property owned personally, or with monies owned personally or derived from sale of property owned personally. But this applies when the court, at the request of one of the spouses, has decided that the property thus acquired shall be owned personally by such spouse.

All properties which are not personal shall be common property even if it is an income derived from personal property. The spouse may regulate their personal and common property by their contract of marriage (prenuptial agreement) if any.

If a spouse proves that any of one’s personal property has been alienated and that the value thereof is mixed to the common property one has the right to withdraw, beforehand, money or things of value corresponding to such price. Where both spouses have such right, each of them shall take their respective share from the common property in proportion to their contribution.

If there is a debt incurred by either spouse or both spouses conjointly, and such debt is confirmed by judicial decision, or acknowledged by the spouses, such debt shall be paid before the division of property.

Without prejudice to the above statements or/and agreements of the spouses, common property shall be divided equally between the spouses. Each spouse shall receive equal share of the property from the common property.

If it is not possible to divide equally the inequality of shares in kind shall be set off by the payment of sums of money. While doing this, utmost care should be taken to give each spouse things which are most useful to him. If certain property is difficult or impossible to be divided and if the spouses do not agree as to who shall have that property, such property shall be sold, and the proceeds thereof shall be divided between them. If they do not agree on the condition of sale and if one of them requires, the sale shall be made by auction.

If a debt to be paid from the common property becomes due after the dissolution of the marriage and after the division of property, each spouse shall be liable in proportion to one’s share. But if the debt concerns one of the spouses, only such spouse shall take care of it.

  1. Effect of Divorce on Children

Dissolution of marriage will have effect on children. The Ethiopian family law takes the matter of children seriously and applies the principle of protecting “the best interest of a child”. When deciding on divorce, the court shall also include the aspects of child custody, education, health, maintenance, and visitation rights of respective spouse. In so deciding, the court shall consider the income, age, health, and condition of living of the spouses as well as the age and interest of the children. The court, on application of either party, can revise or reverse its decision on the above.

If you have question or comment or need a practical legal support from a Divorce Lawyer in Addis Ababa Ethiopia feel free to contact us or email us.

“Copyright © 2003-2020 Fikadu Asfaw and Associate Law Office

Note: This guide provides vital information on Ethiopian Family law, especially Ethiopian Divorce law and practice. However, please note that it is not intended to substitute a professional legal advice from an Ethiopian Divorce Attorney/lawyer, given with full knowledge of the specific circumstances of each case and proficiency in the law of Ethiopia.