The Legal Implications of Declaration of Absence

Since the declaration of absence is equivalent to declaration of death, according to Ethiopian law, declaration of absence has more or less similar effect like death. So let’s see the effects of declaration of absence.

On Marriage

The marriage of the absentee will automatically be dissolved on the day on which the judgment declaring the absence has become final.

On Ones Estate

In case of succession a succession opened after the date of the last news of the absentee shall devolve without taking into account the portion which may eventually be assigned to the absentee. of course, this happens only in cases where the absentee would have been called for succession if he had been alive. However, the heirs or legatees may be obliged, according to Ethiopian law, by the court to furnish a guarantee or other security for safe guarding the rights o the absentee.

Concerning the property of the absentee if the absentee has a will it can be opened at the request o any interested party. And in case the absentee had died on the day of the last news the persons who would have been called to succeed to the property of the absentee may be placed in possession and the property be partitioned.

In Case the Absentee Returns

You would obviously ask what if the absentee returns after he is declared absent. What would have to the property portioned? The Ethiopian Law has addressed such situations also.

The heirs or legatees shall enjoy the property as “Good Pater Familias” (as a good father of the family). They may even be obliged by the court to give before commencing the enjoyment of the property a guarantee or other kind security for the things subject to restitution. There are also restrictions like the heir or the legatee may not transfer the property by a gratuitous title, except for establishing the children of the absentee and he shall invest the sums received by him within three months from the day he received them.

What if the absentee returns after he is declared absent?

The Ethiopian law tells us that the declaration of absence ceases to have effect if the absentee reappears or if it is proved that he was alive on a date subsequent to that of the judgment declaring the absence or if it is proved that he died on a date different from that established in such judgment as being the date of the last news.

When the absentee reruns he will recover his property in the condition in which it is, as well as the proceeds of such part of it as has been transferred and the property acquired through the investment of his capitals.  If an heir or a legatee has been receiving an income deriving from the propriety of the absentee such income shall remain the property of the heirs or legatees. For those who might ask if the absentee has a right to claim damages. The answer would be affirmative; the absentee retains the right to claim damages from the heirs or legatees and their guarantors, where they failed to comply with their legal obligations or committed a fraud.

In over all, if ten years have elapsed since the date of the last news, established by the judgment of declaration of absence, the proof that the absentee did not die on the day of the last news may no longer be made except by the absentee himself or by his special attorney appointed after the date of the judgment declaring the absence.

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