15 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Divorce Cases Up 42pc, High Court Statistics Show

Over 2 600 couples filed for divorce last year at the country's four permanent High Court stations, a 42 percent increase from those recorded in 2017.

According to statistics obtained from the High Court's Family Law division, 2 634 couples filed for divorce in 2018 compared to 1 963 in 2017.

The statistics do not include unregistered customary marriages that are recognised, but can be terminated without going to court. This means that if all the marriages in Zimbabwe were registered with the courts, the divorce rate could be higher. Harare officially had 1 593 divorce cases last year, up from the 1 341 filed in 2017.

The High Court in Bulawayo handled 820 divorce cases in 2018, representing a 60 percent increase from 512 cases recorded in 2017. Statistics from Masvingo High Court show that 131 couples filed for divorce in 2018, up from 110 cases filed in 2017. The Mutare High Court, which officially opened its doors to the public mid last year, received 90 summons for divorce in its fi rst six months.

Lawyers who handle divorce cases attributed the rise in marriage break-ups to financial challenges and the breakdown of the extended family system that used to play an integral part in preserving marriages. South Africa-based Zimbabwean lawyer Ms Tambudzai Gonese Manjonjo said economic hardship were contributing to the increase in divorce cases. "Economic hardship splits families," she said.

"Some couples part ways as they seek greener pastures abroad. Such a separation will lead to divorce. Infidelity is another major reason coupled with the lack of the family support systems which provide counselling and other services to preserve unions."

Legal expert Mr Savious Kufandada said most couples now marry prematurely, resulting in early break-ups.

"People get married at a very tender age such that they start to make some appropriate identification of suitable spouses when they are already married," he said

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