Court Rejects Equal Share of Property After Divorce, Gives New Formula

  • File Photo of Divorce Papers Being Presented in Court
    File Photo of Divorce Papers Being Presented in Court
  • The court has overturned two precedent verdicts that had ordered for an equal share of matrimonial property after divorce.

    The Court of Appeal in yet another landmark ruling reversed the earlier verdict of the High Court, setting a new formula that would be used in the distribution of properties in case partners split.

    The second highest court in the country directed that moving forward, spouses will share property after divorce based on individual contributions. This means that if they contributed equally in purchasing a house, the property is divided depending on what each spouse gave.

    Two wedding rings
    Two identical wedding rings.

    The case on distribution of property has been pending at the Appellant Court with questions centering on whether equal share of matrimonial property should be up held.

    In the case that informed the ruling, the court further noted that if a child is not born in the union, the woman's contribution would only fall under companionship.

    The Matrimonial Property Act (2013), stipulates that ownership of matrimonial property vests in the spouses according to the contribution of either spouse towards its acquisition, and shall be divided between the spouses if they divorce or their marriage is otherwise dissolved.

    The ruling follows a case where a woman was seeking compensation from her spouse following a divorce. However, the court could not quantify her contribution arguing that she did not have much contribution to the union as household chores like purchases at the supermarket were undertaken by a house help and the man’s driver.

    The couple had formalised their union in 2007 according to court documents. Before their divorce, the woman had planned to eliminate the husband so as to acquire his property, witnesses revealed in their testimony.

    The court, while delivering the final verdict, gave the woman only 10 per cent of their matrimonial property after evaluating evidence that proved that is only the amount she contributed.

    This ruling came just months after the High Court ruled that being a housewife should be considered a full-time job. High Court Judge, Teresia Matheka, argued it was rather unfair for courts to rule that housewives have no significant contribution to the financial progression of a family.

    “It is easy for the spouse working away from home and sending money to lay claim to the whole property purchased and developed with that money by the spouse staying at home and taking care of the children and the family. That spouse will be heard saying that the other one was not employed so they did not contribute anything.

    “Raising children is a full-time job that families pay a person to do as well as cooking and cleaning. Hence, for a woman in employment who has to balance childbearing and rearing this contribution must be considered,” she stated.

    File Photo of High Court Judge Teresia Matheka Making a Judgement
    File Photo of High Court Judge Teresia Matheka Making a Judgement