Following years of debates in both houses of Congolese parliament, Act No. 87-010 of 1st August 1987 governing the Family Code, “family code” has just recently been amended and supplemented by the Act No. 16/008 promulgated on 15 July 2016 by the President of the Republic.The amendment of the Family Code respond to the need of its adaptation to the act No. 09/001 of 10 January 2009 on child protection and Act No. 15/013 of 1st August 2015 laying down detailed rules for the application of Women Rights and Gender Equality.
Innovations introduced by this new legislation include the removal of the marital authorisation for a married woman to undertake business and the obligation imposed upon the spouses to agree on any legal deeds containing mutual obligations to them, whether individually or collectively. The Act requires of spouses to demonstrate mutual respect and consideration to each other in their dealings, without prejudice to their other respective obligations in the management of their household. The Act further affirms the principle of participation and concerted management of the spouses’ household, in particular their assets and charges. It removes the automatic coming of age of the under-aged as a result of marriage, without prejudice to the judiciary coming of age. It however conditions this coming of age upon a request substantiated by parents or, failing that, by a custodian. The reaffirmation of the exclusive competence of the juvenile court in handling all matters related to the status and capacity of the under-aged also forms part of the innovations brought about by the new act. The new Family Code strengthens the protection of Congolese child rights provisions against all sorts of abuses in terms of international adoption.
Congolese lawmakers were for long time keen on amending the provisions of the Family Code which no longer reflected the reality, thirty years after the Code went in force. Members of parliament were conscious of the need to preserve the values inherited from tradition and local customs. The amendment aims to merge traditional rules with modern ones, factoring in the social, cultural and political evolution of the country and ensuring compliance with the Constitution of 18 February 2006.
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