British Expat Divorce in Kenya: Where to Start.
How we can help: Our lawyers provide divorce and family law advice for British expats living in Kenya and international families with links to England and Kenya.
This article sets out the applicable law and procedures for expats wishing to divorce in Kenya. The article includes details the financial provision available for expatriates divorcing in Kenya, as well as the provisions available for children.
Where to divorce if you live in Kenya
If you are a British expat living in Nairobi or other parts of Kenya and you are considering divorcing or separating from your spouse or partner, you will be wondering where to begin and what law will apply to you. You may think that you need to divorce in the country in which you were married; this is not the case. If you or your husband/wife were born in England, or have connections to England, you may be able to divorce through the English courts even if you were not married there. You can read more about whether you can divorce in England on our jurisdiction advice page. If you contact us, one of our lawyers will telephone you without charge to give advice whether you can divorce in England.
British expatriates living in Kenya may choose to divorce through the Kenyan courts, or the English courts. Divorce through the English courts can be done as a paper application, without the need for either party to return to the UK, if the parties are in agreement.
Family Law in Kenya for Unmarried Couples
We regularly assist unmarried clients in Kenya to seek financial support from their partner. These claims can include maintenance, provision of school fees for a child, provision of a home and other capital claims. Unmarried individuals who have the necessary links to England can make use of the Schedule 1 claim procedure through the English courts. These claims can include an order that one parent provide the legal fees for another parent.
Child Disputes and Abduction in Kenya
Our lawyers advise on a range of children disputes involving British expat families living in Kenya. Our lawyers can advise on and draft a parenting plan for families requiring assistance post separation, or can assist to implement safeguards for children visiting or relocating to Kenya. We have assisted clients whose children have been abducted to England from Kenya. It is important to note that Kenya is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. However, the English courts can order the return of children taken from Kenya by one parent, via Wardship proceedings. Our lawyers regularly advise on this complex area of law, and are equipped to take the urgent steps required to ensure the return of children abducted from Kenya.
Using the Family Laws in Kenya to Resolve Disputes
Alternatively, British expatriates living in Kenya may wish to divorce through the Kenyan court. They must have been married for 3 years to do this. Kenya has different family laws applicable depending on whether the marriage to be dissolved is a civil marriage, Christian marriage, Hindu marriage or Islamic marriage.
For the dissolution of a civil or Christian marriage, the Kenyan court will consider whether:
- There has been one or more acts of adultery;
- There has been cruelty, whether mental or physical on the petitioner or children
- desertion for at least three years
- There has been exceptional depravity
- There is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
Under Kenyan law, a marriage has broken down irretrievably when:
- a spouse commits adultery
- a spouse is cruel to the other spouse or child of the marriage
- there has been willful neglect for at least two years
- spouses have separated for at least two years
- there has been desertion for at least three years
- there has been a sentence of life imprisonment or seven years onwards
- there is incurable insanity (certified by at least two doctors, one a psychiatrist)
- any other ground court deems appropriate
Child and Spousal Maintenance for British expats in Kenya
Following a divorce in England, the English court can order a husband or wife living in Kenya to pay maintenance for their spouse and children. Interim maintenance can also be awarded to meet interim needs during the course of legal proceedings for divorce, and to meet legal costs for the divorce.
Through the Kenyan courts, maintenance can be ordered to be paid to a spouse until:
- the death of the spouse;
- death of the spouse in whose favour it was made; or
- the person being maintained is subsequently able to support himself or herself
Under Kenyan law, spousal maintenance shall automatically lapse on remarriage of the spouse that is receiving the maintenance.
Please contact our lawyers at Expatriate Law if you would like us to telephone you to provide some informal advice. All our lawyers will give 15 minutes of free initial advice on the telephone. Please email email@example.com.
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