By; Rukundo B. Ibrahim (C.E.O & Director Legal services)
Please note that it is now calle: ” THE MARRIAGE BILL, 2009″ after several CSOs& religious leaders among others objected to ‘fusing’ marriage with divorce.
This Bill has been on several occasions re-tabled before Parliament for Consideration and possibly Passing it into LAW, nevertheless, since then it has been shelved in Parliamentary archives.
The following therefore represents the Salient features in the Bill;
1. The bill seeks to reform and consolidate the current laws relating to civil, Christian, customary, Hindu, and bahai marriages.
2. The bill does not affect marriages under Islam.
3. Establishment of marriage districts and district registrars whose role shall be to register all marriages in their districts, and also conduct civil marriages. A concerned minister shall issue licences to places of worship to conduct marriages, throughout the country. Each district shall have its own marriage register book.
4. Un- consented widow inheritance is prohibited, its an offense that carries a punishment of one year in prison or a fine of Ug Shs; 480,000 or both.
5. Marriage gifts are optional. You may offer if you like, but can not claim back what you offered. If you do so, it’s a criminal offence that carries a punishment of one year in prison or a fine of Ug Shs; 480,000 or both.
6. Consent to marriage is a requirement, for both parties. Minimum age is 18 years.
7. Marriage between relatives,is void. You can not marry your first cousin, but you can marry your second cousin, e.g the daughter of your father’s cousin.
8. Same sex marriages are banned.
9. Prior to all weddings, there shall be a public notice of 21 days.
10. A third party can object the marriage any time before the celebration of the marriage, if one of the persons intending to marry has a living spouse, is under age, or if the 2 are related.
11. Customary marriages shall be conducted in accordance with the various rites observed in each ethnic group. In case of a customary marriage, the sub county chief shall be informed in writing. A marriage certificate shall be issued by the district registrar. The consent of parents is not necessary for customary marriages
12. A spouse may deny conjugal rights under the following circumstances; Poor health, after child birth period, reasonable fear of sex for possible physical or psychological injury. Its criminal, punishable by 5 years imprisonment if a man forces himself onto his spouse in disregard of the above reasons.
13. Matrimonial property is to be owned in common. It includes the marital home and its house hold property, and property acquired jointly as family property during the marriage by both spouses, property which was separate but which the other spouse has made a contribution(either monetary or non monetary), property that creates a lively-hood for the family. Any other property acquired by either spouses before the marriage either movable or immovable, may become matrimonial property by express agreement.
14. Two persons intending to get married may make an agreement of how to share property in case of divorce.
15. A spouse is free to acquire separate property, like that independently acquired, inherited, or awarded by court or an insurance company.
16. Spouses shall have equal access to matrimonial property.
17. The bill recognizes contribution of a spouse be it in kind to property e.g land of the other spouse acquired before the marriage. This excludes ancestral land.
18. A spouse can not enter into a transaction in regard to matrimonial property without consent of the other spouse.
19. Where a spouse/cohabitee gives property to the other spouse, the receiving spouse becomes the owner of that property.
20. Debt incurred for the livelihood of the family with consent of both spouses, becomes a marital debt of both parties.
21. The bill recognizes cohabitation in relation to property rights. When dividing property, court shall consider the length of the cohabitation period.
22. No application to court divorce before 2 years, except if one spouse is suffering exceptional hardship.
23. Divorce shall be granted by court in case of adultery, sexual falsification, cruelty, desertion for more than 2 years, change of religion, and homosexuality. A party not satisfied by court has a right to appeal.
24. Upon termination of a marriage, court has a right to divide matrimonial property. This can/may be subject to any agreements made while still married by the 2 parties. Court may instead of dividing the property, require one party to compensate the other for his/her contribution to the matrimonial property.
25. Distribution of matrimonial property shall be in equal shares, but not less than one third of the value of jointly acquired property.
26. Monetary contribution to matrimonial property shall not be presumed to be of greater value than non monetary contribution.
27. For consideration of children, court shall be bound by the children’s act.
28. The right of a party to receive maintenance from his/her former spouse shall cease upon re-marriage of that party.
29. If no appeal against a dissolution of marriage is received for 6 months, each party has a right to re-marry.
30. A person who falsely claims that he/she is married to a particular person commits a criminal offense, liable to 1 year in prison, or a fine of Ug shs 480,000 or both.
31. A person who commits bigamy(marrying another person while still married) is liable to 5 years in prison or a fine of ug shs 2.4m. A person who knowingly marries one who is already married is also liable to the above punishment.
32. Where a spouse acquired property before the marriage, if the other spouse makes a contribution towards the improvement of this property be it monetary or in kind, this spouse shall have an interest equivalent to his contribution as determined by court.

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