Expatriate divorce in Kenya
This article provides information for British expatriates residing in Nairobi, Kenya, who are considering divorce or separation.
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. Whether by agreement or not, the English courts may also make orders for maintenance to be provided by a husband towards an expat wife and children, and orders for the division of assets which may be located abroad. It is possible to divorce through the English courts if a couple have been married for 1 year. British expatriates do not need to have married in England to be able to divorce there.
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, Skype, or through our firm’s video conferencing system. Please email [email protected].
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