Divorce

The U.S. Embassy provides the following general information on seeking a divorce in Zambia. It does not constitute legal advice; you may wish seek the services of an attorney for professional assistance.

CIVIL MARRIAGE

1. A petition for divorce may be presented to the Court by either party to a marriage on the ground that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Divorce in Zambia cannot be done via proxy. Only in rare cases will a Court grant a divorce when one party is outside Zambia; in that case the respondent who is outside Zambia must agree to accept the Court’s decision without contest.

2. The Court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the petitioner satisfies the Court of one or more of the following facts:

(a) that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;

(b) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;

(c) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition;

(d) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree being granted;

(e) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition.

3. On a petition for divorce it shall be the duty of the Court to inquire, so far as it reasonably can, into the facts alleged by the petitioner and into any facts alleged by the respondent.

4. A decree of dissolution of marriage shall not be made if the Court is satisfied that there is a reasonable likelihood of cohabitation being resumed.

CUSTOMARY MARRIAGE

If the marriage occurred under customary law, the granting of divorce is at the discretion of the Magistrate, who will take into account the appropriate tribal custom (as well as U.S. customs when one party is a U.S. citizen).