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The law on domestic relations has over time taken a series of development from the custom way of viewing marriage to embracing the common law principles that govern marriages.
In Uganda, when the legal duties and responsibilities are ended or reorganized in marriage by a court process. The bond previously created by the marriage comes to an end.
The law on Divorce in Uganda is clear and is embodied in the Divorce Act Cap 249 and other related laws of Uganda made thereunder.
Several grounds do exist upon which a party may petition the court of competent jurisdiction to end the marriage by divorce and they include Cruelty, Desertion, Adultery. It’s important to be noted that these grounds are available for both parties following the court decision in Uganda Association of Women Lawyers and others V Attorney General (Constitutional Petition No.02 of 2003) available via https://ulii.org/ug/judgment/constitutional-court-uganda/2004/1
For one to have Adultery as a group available for them, there should be voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other but one or more is married at the time of the act to the third person. The law in this area was discussed by justice Odoki ( as he was then) in the most celebrated case of Verenoica Habyarimana v Perfect Habyarimana(1980).
When a party conducts himself or herself which causes injury to the other or causes them to comprehend injury or harm on one’s life translates into cruelty and can be relied on to seek divorce. Denial of conjugal rights( sexual intercourse), Nagging, Battery, Over demanding sexual intercourse among others can be construed as being cruel. Ssekandi J in the case of Gakwanvu v Mariana Gasenganyire (1977) discussed ably how cruelty should be construed as a ground for divorce.
A party can argue desertion as a ground for divorce when one of them leaves their matrimonial home with an intention not to return and continues to do so for a period of 2 years and more. It’s worth appreciating that desertion can take place even under one roof or room. This is the current position of the law and is clear in the case of Rose Katungye V Salex Katungye (1999).
Before one contemplates divorce, he or she should seek professional legal advice as other ways of ending marital relationships such as judicial separation can be available for them.
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