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Grounds For Divorce In Ghana: The Basics

By October 6, 2018July 10th, 202044 Comments

Introduction

The Matrimonial Causes Act, 1971 (Act 367), governs the current law on divorce in Ghana. The law provides that a petition for divorce may be presented to the Court by either party to a marriage. However, the Petitioner of the divorce, i.e. the person who starts the proceedings must be able to provide evidence to the effect that the marriage has broken down beyond reconciliation. This is the sole ground for divorce. That notwithstanding this sole ground must be evidenced by proof of one of the following:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable Behavior
  3. Desertion
  4. Separation with consent for two (2) years
  5. Five years of Separation

1. ADULTERY – Section 2(1) (a) of Act 367

“… the Respondent has committed adultery and that by reason of the adultery the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent”.

Adultery may be defined as sexual intercourse between two persons of whom one or both are married but who are not married to each other. It is important to note that if you are the Petitioner, you cannot rely on your adultery. For Adultery to be proven, there must be at least partial penetration.

Under Act 367, adultery is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with a person of the opposite sex other than his or her spouse.

Further, a petitioner must satisfy the Court that he/she finds it intolerable to live with the Respondent. This is, however, a subjective test and depends on the view of the Petitioner, which the Court will ascertain and come to a conclusion. Section 3 of Act 367 provides that to rely on this fact, a couple should not have lived together for more than six months after one becomes aware of the adultery, if the couple lives together for more than six months after the occurrence of adultery on the part of one of them, this ground cannot be relied upon.

It is interesting to note that, on a petition for divorce in which adultery is alleged, the person alleged to have committed adultery with the party to the marriage may be made a party to the proceedings.

2. UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR – Section 2(1) (b) of Act 367

 “… the Respondent has behaved in a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent”.

Section 4 of Act 367 provides that for the purposes of section 2(1) (b), in determining whether a petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the Respondent, the Court shall disregard any period or periods not exceeding six months in the aggregate during which the parties to the marriage lived with each other as husband and wife after the date of the occurrence of the last incident relied on by the Petitioner and proved to the Court in support of an allegation.

This is the most commonly relied upon fact for divorce. Case law provides that “unreasonable behaviour” can take the form of either an act or omission and can include severe issues of physical/emotional violence or more mild incidents.

The conduct complained of must be severe and higher than the ordinary wear and tear of marriage life.

3. DESERTION- Section 2 (1) (c) of Act 367

“… the Respondent has deserted the Petitioner for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition”.

Desertion is the separation of one spouse from the other with the intention on the part of the deserting spouse to bring cohabitation permanently to an end without the consent of the other spouse

The physical act of departure by one spouse does not necessarily make that spouse the deserting party. The Petitioner must satisfy the Court that the Respondent has deserted the marriage and there is no intention to return

Desertion must exist for at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the Petition to qualify as a ground for divorce.

4. 2 YEARS SEPARATION WITH CONSENT – Section 2 (1) (d) of Act 367

“… the parties to the marriage have not lived as husband and wife for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to the grant of a decree of divorce, provided that the consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, and where the Court is satisfied that it has been so withheld, the Court may grant a petition for divorce under this paragraph despite the refusal”.

Consent is necessary to rely upon this fact. The Court must satisfy itself that consent to divorce has been given by the Respondent only after the Respondent has understood the consequences of his or her consent.

5. NOT HAVING LIVED AS MAN AND WIFE FOR 5 YEARS- Section 2 (1)(e) of Act 367

 “… the parties to the marriage have not lived as husband and wife for a continuous period of at least five years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition”.

Consent is not needed to rely on this fact. Section 7 of Act 367 provides that, for the purposes of section 2 (1) (d) and (i) in determining whether the period for which the parties to a marriage have not lived as man and wife has been continuous, the Court shall disregard any period or periods not exceeding six months in the aggregate during which the parties resumed living as man and wife.

The Petitioner must demonstrate aside enlisting any of the grounds as mentioned above for the dissolution of the marriage that the parties to the union after diligent effort have been unable to reconcile their differences.

Although the Court may find one or more of the facts required to be established for the dissolution of the marriage, the Court shall not grant a petition for divorce unless it is satisfied, on all the evidence, that the marriage has broken down beyond reconciliation.

Procedure for Divorce 

Section 1(i) of Act 367 states the ground for the commencement of divorce proceedings. A petition for divorce may be presented to the Court by either party to a marriage. However, for the avoidance of doubt, Court means the High Court or the Circuit Court (section 43 of Act 367 subject to the Chief Justice’s power to transfer action under section 40 of Act 367.

The divorce petition is the document that starts divorce proceedings. This document informs both the Respondent and the Court on the legal basis on which the Petitioner is pursuing a divorce.

The Petitioner files a petition at either the High Court or Circuit Court, and then the Registrar will cause the Petition filed to be served on the Respondent through the Court bailiff. To issue a petition, it must be sent to the Court in triplicate.

There is a Court fee for issuing a divorce petition. It is important to note that a divorce petition cannot be issued within the first year of marriage. However, the Petitioner can rely on events that occurred within the first year of marriage.

Restriction on Petitioning

A petition for the dissolution of marriage cannot be presented to the Court by the Petitioner within two years from the date of the marriage. That means that a party to a marriage that is less than two years cannot commence a divorce proceeding, notwithstanding the existence of any of the facts necessitating divorce under the Act. (section 9 of Act 367)

There is, however, a proviso to the restriction on petitioning for a divorce.  The Court may on application allow the presentation of a petition for divorce within two years from the date of the marriage on the ground of substantial hardship suffered by the Petitioner or depravity on the part of the Respondent.

Notes on contributor

Mr David Yaw Danquah is the founder and Managing Partner of Legalstone Solicitors LLP, a boutique law firm in Ghana with a concentration on Corporate and Commercial, Mining and Infrastructure, Debt Recovery and Restructuring, Real Estate and Construction Law, and Commercial Arbitration.   

He heads the firm’s practice areas of focusing are Corporate and Commercial, Mining and Infrastructure, Debt Recovery and Restructuring, and Commercial Arbitration.

David has advised on numerous investment and mining-related transactions. He also has assisted countless international entities in establishing their operations in Ghana, and through his firms, offers support services to those entities. He has an impeccable record of providing technical savvy and exceptional client services.

David is a graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Law (LL. B) and the Ghana School of Law, where he studied and received a Post Graduate Qualifying Certificate in Law (PQCL). He holds a Certificate in Negotiation Mastery from Harvard University. Presently, he is pursuing an LL.M Degree in International Dispute Resolution at the prestigious Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom.  

David is a member of the Ghana Bar Association, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) and Institute of Energy Law (IEL) based in Houston, U.S.

Legal Notice

The contents of this publication, current at the date of publication set out above, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your particular circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

© Legalstone Solicitors LLP

 

44 Comments

  • Papa Erzah says:

    I did customaly marriage with no documents attach can i go to court and ask for divorce certificate we’ve married for 3years she committed adultery and i want divorce what are the procedure to go through. Thank you

  • Mary Kusi-Appiah says:

    Please get in touch.
    Thanks

  • RAYMOND TUOLONG says:

    I married my wife 3 years ago but she abandoned her matrimonial home a year ago on 22/11/2018 and has since refused to come back no matter the efforts I have made.i married her customarily and registered our marriage afterwards.i don’t intend to divorce her for deserting her matrimonial home and refusing to come back until I have evidence her has committed adultery.my worry is she said she would not marry again so I should take care of my son and as such refuses money for her own upkeep.lately she together with her mother acts very rudely towards me and rain insults on me.her mum even gets physical a fact I have on tape.now that she acts violently towards me and even refused money for our son,I don’t intend to go over for such treatments any more.if she don’t contact me for money for our son’s upkeep would I ever be blamed since I don’t intend to go to their place ever.for all the months she refuses to contact me for money our 1 year 5 months year old son’s upkeep would I be held accountable or say pay arrears for monies she refused saying she would take care of him?

  • walter says:

    Me and my Wife married for 13years and we have 1child , 2 years ago I was try to bring them to USA to live together as family but something went wrong , the DNA test prof that the child is not , I asked her how come and tell me the truth in it and I asked her for divorce and she refuse to sing the paperwork , because she lives in my house , what should will do? thanks

    • David Danquah Esq. says:

      Kindly get in touch with us via email for further discussions. Regards. Email:info@legalstonesolicitorsllp.com

  • pat says:

    Me and my Wife married for 13years and we have 1child , 2 years ago I was try to bring them to USA to live together as family but something went wrong , the DNA test prof that the child is not , I asked her how come and tell me the truth in it and I asked her for divorce and she refuse to sing the paperwork , because she lives in my house , what should will do? thanks

  • Lorrainé Giwa says:

    Greetings how much does it cost for representation by a lawyer and is your company representatives honorable and unlikely r o be bought off by the respondent which is a local Cheif.? We married in We corresponded for three years by phone and video a few emails. He sent for me to visit Ghana. While there we went to Magistrate Court in Accra and were married. Soon after my husband’s family member alerted me to the fact that he already had several wives and children. I was heartbroken as this was the day I was returning home to America. My husband denied it and said I should ‘ll d not listen to the rumours.He promised me that he would send me money every month for my accommodations until he finished the h one he was building for me. Upon completion I could return permanently. In our correspondences he only told me about having 1 child, and I completely fell in love with her. We spent everyday together and she loves me as well. It has been so hard not beong there with them I have worn myself out calling crying begging to talk to her and to be able t I come home. I have found that since our marriage he has at least married three more women and has at least fathered 5 more children. The worst part of it all is it has been plastered all over Facebook for not only me to see but my family and friends. I am broken embarrassed and ashamed. I can barely hold my head up It seems I am being stabbed in my heart hundreds of times a day. He never kept ahis promise I have had two fires and lost everything and asked for help only for my plea to fall on deaf ears. Simply he sent me home to America and abandoned our marriage before it could even start. For 5 years now no card no letter almost no conversation over1 minute no financial support. All the while throwing big parties naming ceremonies outdoorings giving people houses cars starting businesses for girlfriends and boys. He promised to love and take care of me and did the total opposite. I have called only to be blocked by his women blocked on Facebook and other means of conversation. He asked me to love and pray for him and to never change, but he changed completely . He has amassed a great amount of wealth since our marriage so maybe the plans he had and the agenda of his heart changed. I have found the truth of the matter and it is epic. My number is 51294+6132

  • Wilson chide says:

    I am married to a Ghanaian lady for 9 years now, am from Nigeria, each time we have little misunderstanding she will demand for divorce, we had our wedding in nigeria, can she fill for divorce in Ghana. Thank u

  • Isaac Amponsah Asamoah says:

    My wife are separated just only one year and we have been marriage for good 7 years.last year 25th February,2018 she brought me my rings and drink as tradition demands. We have not starting the court proceeding and she is now pregnant with another man so in this case what should i do. But in all we have two kids 7 year old girl& 3 year old boy. Thanks

  • Noldsrey says:

    I need your counsel. Can I get your contact

  • Maame says:

    We have been married for 2 years . We stayed together the 1st year of our marriage but the second year we were separated. I want a divorce how do i go about it since its two years now. And he wont even pick up my call so we end mutually an agreement we made wen we went our separate ways after the first year

  • Afua says:

    I have being married to my husband for 2 and a half years. We have a 7month old baby.and things haven’t being going on well between as and was thinking we can work on it but now he called me to tell me he wants a divorce because he thinks someone else can make me happy if he is not making me happy. I tried to let as work on our marriage but it looks like he had already made up his mind. What should I do.

  • Omane Sarfo says:

    After 6yrs of marriage my wife and i have finally come to the conclusion that we need to part ways. we registered this marriage in court before the wedding .Where do we begin this divorce process from.Thank you

  • Abena Andah says:

    My husband and I have been married five years now..There’s been lots of misunderstandings and family members from both factions have sat in to mediate along with other elders but it yielded no results… he filed for divorce and I consented but at our first hearing he seems to want to back out and I know I can’t allow myself to suffer again.. how can I win this cross petition for divorce… Thanks

  • Akorsu says:

    Married in April 2018 after the wedding ceremony I got the cold shoulder my husband wouldn’t kiss me in front of his friend during the reception. He showed me no happiness. I returned home to USA 3days later . Well what you know he on Facebook making sexual jokes with some ladies there, when I confronted him he blocked me, he has blocked me from all forms of communication unless he needs money. I sent him money for a house he had built for me so he says but he never put in our name. When he needs money for the animals I send but he is emotionally abusive to me and on my very last trip yy here he was physical with me. He denie me sex on our wedding night and on my recent visit he just insults me and is VERY DISRESPECTFUL TO ME caLLS me with names and then blocks my call and all forms of communication. With all this and plenty more can I have this marriage anulled?
    Pls help

  • Me says:

    Married I 2018 on my first visit to Ghana, after the court ceremony we we at the house were we had people over and my husband was giving me the cold shoulder. He wouldn’t kiss me now make love to me later that day. Well I had to return home days later and he was distant. But he would get on Facebook and talk sexual with the ladies, and when I confronted him he blocked on off Facebook. We constantly had arguments about his behavior with ladies
    I made a second visit to Ghana and he still wouldn’t be sexual with me. He would make a big argument about it and storm out the house. He even got physical with me over it.
    He is really disrespectful to me with his words and cursing me out. Calling me a useless bitch and being verbally abusive. I want to get this marriage anulled pls tell me how I can do this

  • Me says:

    Married I 2018 on my first visit to Ghana, after the court ceremony we we at the house were we had people over and my husband was giving me the cold shoulder. He wouldn’t kiss me now make love to me later that day. Well I had to return home days later and he was distant. But he would get on Facebook and talk sexual with the ladies, and when I confronted him he blocked on off Facebook. We constantly had arguments about his behavior with ladies
    I made a second visit to Ghana and he still wouldn’t be sexual with me. He would make a big argument about it and storm out the house. He even got physical with me over it.
    He is really disrespectful to me with his words and cursing me out. Calling me a useless bitch and being verbally abusive. Blocking me unless he needs money then get a reason to angry and block me again. I send money for the house and the animals and or him to eat and he still treats me like he just hates me. I want to get this marriage anulled pls tell me how I can do this

  • Ishmael Agyare says:

    I have married for 8years no children and we are separating will I shear my house with her . While her money is not part of my house, what will be my costs, after divorce

  • Vonsetta Burns says:

    Married a traditional marriage in Ghana no court’s. What’s the process for divorce. Married 2 years

  • Kojo says:

    Hello there, i have been married for almost 4years. My wife has not given me the needed respect i deserve as a man and a whole lot of issues which i believe is not need. But recently i got fed up when i lost my job and asked her for help she refused, we had a heated argument. The next day she locked me in the house with my 2year old daughter left and returned some hours later with a police officer claiming to be from Dovsu, there has been a lot of issues after that. But i have gone to her family to end the marriage with them now i want to get advice on the best way to end it in court without compensating her, concerning my daughter i am fully aware she is my responsibility, i bought a brand new car for her this year and i do not want to add anything else to it, we do not have any property together. Please contact me

  • Colley says:

    I have been married for almost 5 years. I’m an American citizen and filed for my wife to join me. Our marriage certificate and affidavit was done in Ghana. We don’t have an American marriage certificate and want to get a divorce process started. We haven’t lived together for 2 years. Any help?

  • Benedict says:

    Unreasonable behavior
    I have married for 3 years now and i want to file for a divorce. I do everything as a man supposed to do in the house. My wife is Disgracing me in public all because i have a girl friend. Fighting with the lady in public and disgracing me to his family .

  • Philip says:

    Have been married for 1and half years. My wife constantly insult me every no and then and if care is not taken may hit her and end up in prison. I don’t even feel for sex with her. I’m ready to let her go with everything we’ve acquired but not with our daughter. How should I start when the two years is due.

  • Samuel MPETTEY says:

    I need to know the outcome of this

  • Ama says:

    Have been married for 10months now my husband has decided to cheat and I want a divorce him what process will I go through?

  • Naa says:

    Hello, I’ve been married for two years with a child. I took care of my medical bills till date because I work with a private hospital. After giving birth, my husband’s attitude changed. He always wants us to jointly pay for everything at home( he earns better than I do) including taking care of our child. He stopped making love to me about 6 months now, even if I make the move he turns me away. Always nagging about being broke and everything I do. Now I don’t want him to make love to me. I don’t feel anything for him any longer. What do I do?

  • Sarah says:

    Please am married for 5yrs now with two kids, my husband started maltreating me just one month after our wedding and I was thinking things was going to be changed but it was still going on and I heard him planning with his father to get me divorced on phone but unfortunately I was pregnant again so he asked me to go to my mother since he was going on peace keeping at Lebanon so after he came back he is refusing that I join him and more over his family members are not in good terms with me so I will like to get him divorce, how will I go about it. Thanks.

  • Pearlie says:

    I need to filed for a divorce cause we hasn’t live together been married over 4 years. Tried to get his visa but he didn’t pass interview. Need to know what the cost and ground that I will be filing separation with consent for a period of
    2 years. Got married in 2015 been back to ghana 2017

  • Phee says:

    Hi, husband of 4 years has been found to be rampantly committing adultery. He lies, throws insults and is virtually terrorizing me at home on top of it, since he is washing the guilt of his depraved act on me upon return. We have one house and a landed property together. I want a divorce and child custody (dad is very narcissistic) plus my share of property

  • Ekow Abeka says:

    I have been married for the past 13yrs and between us,we don’t have a child. I came to marriage with 2 children whilst she had 1. Of late,she has being exhibiting some unreasonable behavior which is affecting the whole family. I want to divorce her,which I know is what she is looking for, then we can all have our piece of mind.

  • Nana says:

    Please I have been married to my husband for two and a half years now thou we were cohabiting for almost one and a half years before marriage. We have two kids together which are all through cesarean.
    My husband is very violent and intolerant. He abused me physically over trivial issues and he has history of abuse from his other relationship.
    I have come to the decision that I can no longer live with him though he and his family are still pleading with me but am scared he might kill me one day. He calls his act an “unconscious act” but when ever he decides to beat me, even he cannot stop himself and he beats me like a thief.
    Please do I stand to gain anything though am the one asking for divorce. Will he me made to provide accommodation for us and provide upkeep for his kids?
    Thank you

  • Opoku Marvin says:

    Please my sister was beg to married a deaf and dumb who is also a stickler and she was promise to be reward by the mother in law,because the deaf and dumb man is the only son the mother inlaw have.1,she was promised that she will be given a visa to UK to give birth every pregnancy,and will be also treat good.and because the mother agree to this she was give a 3bedroom flat without agreement letter,after my sister has given birth to a baby girl.she gave birth to the second born which was another girl.and was started treated bad,beaten and disgraced.so she decided to divorce but the mother didn’t allowed her,so she gave birth to a baby boy as a third born.the children age is 6years,8years and 11years.so the situation became too bad.more than six year the husband has been sleeping in his mother bedroom,is the mother who shaved and feed the husband.is also the mother who decided when to have sex.so the mother in law will bring the son aound 3pm and will go for him by 4pm and will not allowed husband and wife to sleep together.but if the wife complains mother in law said she always give the husband medicine in the midnight.now my sister is no more there in the husband house.on 26 April she ask me to accompany her to see the children. and she was beaten and sak by the mother in law.now she is asking if my sister will not come to the house to married the husband,she should bring the marriage rite.and she made a complained to the police that my sister came to her house to pick the children but she didn’t allowed and she beat her.so we want legal advise.

  • Adwoa says:

    Please, I have been married for a year now. Exactly a day after our marriage my husband’s youngest brother got insane, moving naked on the street and he is still at a mental health hospital. Through the family’s conversation I got to know that my husband’s mother, uncle and cousin has also suffered from the same insanity before. Just some few months ago the other brother of husband has also gone insane. I haven’t had a child now because I’m scare our kid may inherit it. Can I base on this for a divorce?

  • Eddie says:

    We have been married for seven years now, some months after the wedding I noticed some changes in her which I confronted her but she said there’s nothing wrong. Since then till date there hasn’t been peace. She doesn’t buy any idea I suggest. She always accuse me falsely. I want a divorce because I cannot stand her. She nags too which frustrates me. Please how will it cost to divorce her?

  • Eddie says:

    We have been married for seven years now. Some months after the wedding, I noticed some changes in her which I confronted her but she said there’s nothing wrong. Since then till date there hasn’t been peace, it is one problem or the other. For almost 1and half year now we don’t leave like husband and wife. She nags too which frustrates me. Please how much will it cost to divorce her?

  • Kwasi says:

    My wife and I separated a month after our wedding. It’s a year now. She promised to facilitate the process but intend to start on Monday. Will the request be granted us

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