By Staff Reporter
The Divorce Bill, one of 14 pieces of legislation has been tabled during a parliamentary session for being in need of change.
Namibia has to date used the Divorce Law Amendment Ordinance 18 of 1935, a law inherited from South Africa, which is making way for the new law, which has been tabled by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration.
The new law seeks to replace the outdated one, which is seen as being expensive and traumatic, amongst others.
For close to three decades after independence, Namibia relied on the Divorce Law Amendment Ordinance 18 of 1935 inherited from South Africa.
The new law however will make the divorce process easier, and quicker.
The Patriot’s investigation reveal ed that the Windhoek High Court heard 33 undefended divorce cases on the 1st of July 2019.
Undefended means that neither party contests the divorce, or both gave their consent or one party was absent from the proceedings at Court. Most Court proceedings last mere minutes as the Judge makes the pronouncement.
Particulars of claim reveal that there are various reasons for divorces, however extra marital affairs tops the list of reasons submitted before the Court.
When approached for comment, Court officials consistently said “no surprise there”, when this fact was mentioned to them.
Experts agree that the divorce rate in Namibia is set to rise, and with the new law in place, with which only one stated reason is sufficient to bring the divorce matter before the Court, matters will be able to be finalised more speedily and with less trauma caused to parties involved.
Chisom Okafor, a senior legal officer at the Law Reform and Development Commission of Namibia, has said the simplification of the divorce proceedings would make it possible for parties to represent themselves, and would thus reduce the demands on the state legal aid system.
“If it is an unopposed divorce, there will be no need for one to make use of a lawyer but if it is opposed then there will still be a need for one to have a legal representative,” Okafor is quoted as saying. She added that the new divorce law is “going to be less formal and less complicated in comparison to the current law as the process will be shorter”.
The Divorce Bill proposes that certain matters relating to the custody of children be clarified and that additional protections be put in place to ensure that children’s best interests are being met.
It further proposes that courts be given a discretionary power to distribute marital property fairly, to eliminate injustices that can occur from the strict application of the existing marital property regimes.
It also makes provision for all divorce cases to be dealt with primarily on the basis of affidavit evidence, with the parties summoned to appear before a magistrate in chambers or in court only when there are potential problems or a need for further evidence.
This would reduce the costs and the trauma of divorce, and take pressure off court rolls.
What causes divorce?
It is said that divorce is more emotionally devastating than losing employment, about equal to experiencing a major illness and somewhat less devastating than the other spouse’s death.
Bertus Preller is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney with more than 14 years’ experience as a practicing Attorney.
He opines that “reasons perceived by both men and women as the causes of divorce include loss of love and incompatibility, poor communication, addiction, basic unhappiness, infidelity, emotional problems, conflict over roles, and spouses’ personality traits.
The common conclusion to all studies on prevention of relationship breakdown and the causes of divorce is that a constellation of factors, not one, is normally responsible for the breakdown of a marriage relationship.
Men, women and especially children benefit from a secure, stable and nurturing marital partnership and family environment.
Since relationships are dynamic and family circumstances alter through the course of the marriage (birth of a child, dealing with teenagers, a change in employment, illness of a family member), spouses can only benefit more from ongoing counselling options across the different stages of marriage and family life.”