The first order a competent court pronounces in a divorce proceeding in Cameroon is a decree Nisi. This decree is not the final closure of the divorce proceeding as it is only a temporary court decision. Hence parties to the divorce process in Cameroon as per the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 still have the opportunity to take action before the final decree which is called the decree Absolute is pronounced.
General Powers of the Court in Cameroon
Where a decree of divorce has been granted but not made absolute, then without prejudice, any person may show cause why the decree should not be made absolute by reason of material facts not having been brought before the court, and in such a case the court may;
- Make the decree absolute,
- Rescind the decree,
- Require further inquiry, or
- Otherwise deal with the case as it thinks fit.
Where a decree of divorce has been granted and no application for it to be made absolute has been made by the party to whom it was granted, then, at any time after the expiration of three months from the earliest date on which that party could have made such an application, the party against whom it was granted may make an application to the court, and on that application the court may exercise any of the powers mentioned above in line with section 9 of the matrimonial cause act 1973.
Special Protection for Respondent in Separation Cases
Where in any case the court has granted a decree of divorce on the basis of a finding that the petitioner was entitled to rely in support of his petition on the fact of two years separation coupled with the respondent’s consent to a decree being granted and has made no such finding as to any other fact mentioned in section 1(2) of the Matrimonial Cause Act 1973, the court may on an application made by the respondent at any time before the decree is made absolute, rescind the decree if it is satisfied that the petitioner misled the respondent (whether intentionally or unintentionally) about any matter which the respondent took into account in deciding to give his consent. This shall apply in the following case;
- Where the respondent to a petition for divorce in which the petitioner alleged two years’ or five years’ separation coupled with the respondent’s consent to a decree being granted has applied to the court for consideration based on his financial position after the divorce, and
- The court has granted a decree on the petition on the basis of a finding that the petitioner was entitled to rely in support of his petition on the fact of two years’ or five years’ separation as the case may be and has made no such finding as to any fact mentioned.
The court hearing an application by the respondent shall consider all the circumstances including the age, health, conduct, earning capacity, financial resources and financial obligations of each of the parties, and the financial position of the respondent as having regard to the divorce, it is likely to be after the death of the petitioner should the petitioner die first. The court shall not make the decree absolute unless it is satisfied that;
- The petitioner should not be required to make any financial provision for the respondent, or
- That the financial provision made by the petitioner for the respondent is reasonable and fair or the best that can be made in the circumstances.
The court may if it thinks fit make the decree absolute notwithstanding the above requirements if;
- It appears that there are circumstances making it desirable that the decree should be made absolute without delay, and
- The court has obtained a satisfactory undertaking from the petitioner that he will make such financial provision for the respondent as the court may approve.