Law Pertaining to Divorce in Sri Lanka

Grounds for obtaining a ‘divorce’ in Sri Lanka are all fault based and limited to 3, which are ‘adultery’, ‘malicious Desertion’ (where the party as fault leaves the matrimonial home) or Constructive Malicious Desertion (where due to the conduct of the party at fault the other party is compelled to leave the matrimonial home) and incurable ‘impotency’. Legal proceedings for divorce also deal with, to include, claims of alimony, alimony pendent-lite, physical and legal custody of children of the marriage 18 years and under and maintenance for such children (if applicable).

The procedure involves filing of formal legal proceedings in the District Court having jurisdiction; the determining factor for jurisdiction being the domicile of the Plaintiff or Defendant. The filing of a Plaint commences legal Proceedings followed by the Answer of the Defendant. Trial will commence thereafter and upon the conclusion of which Judgment is delivered. Procedurally, upon Judgment being delivered a Decree Nisi is entered in accordance with the Judgment. Legal proceedings are concluded after a mandatory period 3 months from the date of Decree Nisi, by the Decree Nisi being made Absolute.

The minimum duration of legal proceedings would be approximately 6 months from the date of filing the Plaint. The duration being dependent on the evidence required.

A party has the right of appeal from a Judgment of Divorce to the Court of Appeal in the first instance and thereafter to the Supreme Court.

The institution of legal proceedings would require information and documents to include:

  • Full names of the parties and addresses in Sri Lanka (either party must be domiciled in Sri Lanka);

  • Date and place of marriage;

  • Full names of children (if any);

  • Addresses of the matrimonial home/homes;

  • A note to include the reasons for divorce and the timeline of events leading to the seeking of the divorce;

  • Claims to be made, such as alimony, custody etc

  • Original marriage certificate or a certified copy of the same, issued by the issuing authority to file in Court;

  • Original Birth certificates of children (if any)

  • The Proxy of the lawyer signed by you appointing us as your lawyers to act on your behalf which would be prepared for signature by us.