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New Marriage Bill no longer allows couples to divorce before spending one year together

Man Jose Kayima

In a bid to replace the existing marriage laws and address contemporary challenges, Uganda’s proposed Marriage Bill (2022) proposes that couples can only be allowed to divorce after spending at least 1 year together and not less.

Introduced by Tororo Woman Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Opendi, the bill has gained alot of attention for its groundbreaking proposals, including a mandatory one-year waiting period for spouses seeking divorce.

This provision aims to encourage greater deliberation and potentially salvage marriages before resorting to legal dissolution as the new bill, which encompasses all recognized marriages in Uganda, spanning across religious denominations including Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Bahai, and others, underscores a comprehensive approach to marital legislation.

Susan Katono, the legal director of parliament, has also come out and outlined key objectives of the bill during a regional lobby and consultative meeting in Jinja City. She emphasized the bill’s aim to fortify marriages by introducing measures to both solemnize and safeguard unions.

Among the proposed reforms is the allowance for civil marriages to be polygamous, a departure from antiquated colonial-era restrictions. This move reflects a recognition of cultural diversity and seeks to align legal frameworks with societal norms.

In a nod to modernization, the bill advocates for digital integration in marriage procedures, proposing the validation of online ceremonies through video calls, catering to individuals seeking to marry while abroad.

Moreover, the bill seeks to broaden the spectrum of marriage venues beyond traditional church settings, acknowledging the significance of sacred unions in various contexts.

However, officiators would be required to obtain government licensure to solemnize marriages and issue legal certificates

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