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How to adopt a child in Uganda

It is said that in every person’s life, there is always a family we have, and a family we choose. Ideally, your natural family is one of the families we don’t get to choose. Legally, however, a family or individual may have the opportunity to defy these odds through adoption or guardianship.

Adoption is the legal process where a person permanently assumes parental rights and responsibilities for a child from his or her biological parents.

Guardianship, on the other hand, is the process whereby a person is appointed by the court to take care of a child, with this, they acquire temporary parental rights and responsibilities.

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 “Adoption – because family isn’t made from blood, it’s made from love.”


Who can Adopt?

Adopting a child may be simple enough on paper, however, the law presents a few conditions that allow a prospective parent to adopt. These are; 

A. Citizen Adoption 

i) A person at the age of 25 years can adopt a child however a prospective parent must be 21 years older than the child to gain custody. 

ii) A prospective adoptive parent must have fostered the child for at least 36 months under the supervision of a probation officer. 

iii) In circumstances where the prospective adoptive parents are a couple, they must be able to adopt a child jointly.

iv) A single parent can also adopt a child however, they are not allowed to adopt one of the opposite sex save for exceptional circumstances. 

v) Prospective adoptive parents must be in good physical and mental health as determined by a medical practitioner.

B. Foreign Adoption

i) For a foreigner to adopt a child, the prospective parent must have fostered the child for at least 36 months while in Uganda under the supervision of a Probation Officer.

ii) A foriegn adoptive parent must;

a) Have no criminal record 

b) Have been approved by their country of nationality to adopt

c) They must possess proof that their country will respect the Ugandan adoption Order.

d) Must meet the same requirements for adoption as a citizen.


A prospective parent will require the following consent before they are allowed to adopt a child;

 a) Under circumstances where a child’s parents are; known, alive, of sound mind and can be found, consent must be given for the said child to be adopted. 

b) Children who are of 14 years and above must also consent to the adoption. 

c) A child or parent is at liberty to withdraw their consent to adoption before the adoption order is made. They are also allowed to challenge said adoption in circumstances where consent wasn’t obtained legally. 


The adoption order must be registered with the Office of the Registrar General, Probation office and National Council for Children. Where the prospective parent is a foreigner, the court will order that the Adoption Order be registered with the Embassy of Uganda in the country of the adoptive parents. 

How to know your family needs a lawyer?

If you are anything like me, you may be wondering what family law truly entails, after all, a family should be pretty simple. An “ideal family’ consists of a mother, father, and probably two children, however, we must note that most people in Uganda alone do not experience this particular form of family.

The Objective XIX of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda (as amended) defines a family as the natural and basic unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State and further goes on to highlight the rights a family has under Article 31.

Disagreements are common with every relationship and a family is no exception. Family Law can be defined as the portion of the law that governs the relationships between children and parents, and between adults in close emotional relationships.

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Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family

Anthony Brandt

While family law in Uganda covers all aspects that concerns a family and all disputes that may arise in between, it is easy to think that Family Law is simply limited to marriage and succession.

Contrary to what many may think, there are so many parts of the law that can affect a family and its respective relationships ranging from land disputes to taxation. The trick to finding out whether your query or concern falls under this particular branch of law is pretty simple. Here are a few things that are tackled under family law.


Marriage is one of the most common sections of family law. The 1995 Constitution of Uganda states that a person of the age of 18 years and above has a right to marry and found a family and the pair are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during the marriage, and at its dissolution.

The decision to marry is very separate from the decision to live together and bear children together. A legal marriage under the laws of Uganda offers a couple of different rights that simple cohabitation would not. These include a right to inheritance, property, and family maintenance.

These rights are only given when a couple has married under the acceptable and legal forms of marriage in Uganda.
These include;
I) Customary Marriage
II) Civil Marriage
III) Islamic Marriage

It is important to note that cohabitation (where man and woman live together without going through any of the legally recognised marriages) is not recognised as a valid form of marriage in Uganda.

Credit: Ntwaaka

Separation and Divorce

If you have gone through a divorce, you might have an inkling of what separation feels like. While the idea is that a couple will live happily ever after, the reality is that sometimes these relationships do not last. Now you may wonder what the difference between a separation and divorce is.

A separation does not end a marriage, but only suspends certain rights of the husband and the wife. The husband and wife are still considered to be married and neither of them can marry another person during the separation. In modern terms, a separation would be considered as ‘taking a break.’

A divorce on the other hand is a permanent dissolution of a marriage. It only applies to legally recognised marriages and its procedure depends on the type of marriage the parties had.

Whether a couple chooses a divorce or a separation, a permanent or temporary ending of a relationship can be a painful process especially if children are involved. In divorce proceedings more specifically, the custody of children and dissolution of property is up for discussion.

Credit: Usatoday

Custody and Maintenance

Children are a blessing to any family, this being so, they are one subject that is bound to be contentious. Article 257(c) of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Children ActCap 59 defines a child as a person below the age of eighteen years. This being said, family law will encompass all aspects of a child’s well-being, this includes custody and maintenance of a child.

Custody concerns the legal rules governing the right of children regarding whom to live with and maintenance is the right children have to know and be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up. This is a question that will arise during a separation or divorce.

Credit: ACERWC


Adoptions refer to the legal and formal acceptance of another’s natural or biological child as their own, with the same rights and responsibilities attached thereto as if the child were your natural child, both in terms of child support and standing in intestates. This section is self-explanatory.

To adopt a child however comes with several prerequisites which include:
I) Age of applicant
II) Spousal consent
III) sex of the applicant

Of course, the dynamics of adoption are quite wide but in case you are looking to give a child a new home, a family lawyer would be the best person to hire.

Credit: Pagesix- Angelina Jolie and her adopted child, Zahara


Death is inevitable, and so the law of succession deals with the devolution and transmission of the estate of a deceased person. There are three types of succession under the law;

I) Testate succession which means the deceased left a will and valid testament of dissolution of their property.
II) Intestate succession where the deceased died without a will.
III) Partly testate and partly intestate succession.

In situations where there is a will, a will’s validity may be contested. It is easy to think that once a deceased has left instructions, then the rest would be smooth sailing. Unfortunately, if this was the case then we would be out of business.

It is all about a better measure for family!