The Court of Appeal has overturned two major rulings directing for an equal split of matrimonial property.
The rulings by the High Court were considered precedent setting as they ordered splitting couples to split matrimonial property 50-50. The Court of Appeal, however, opted for matrimonial property to be shared based on each spouse’s contribution.
The Matrimonial Property Act, 2013 reads in part: “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 issue of whether matrimonial property should be split equally is also pending determination at the Supreme Court.
In one of the judgements, the three-judge bench noted that as the couple had no children from the marriage, the woman’s contribution fell only under ‘companionship’.
The woman was granted a 10% share of the value of their matrimonial home, with the man retaining 90% after the court found that he made the payments with no financial contribution from his spouse.
The case also highlighted that household chores including shopping were regularly undertaken by the house-help and the man’s driver, lessening the woman’s claim.
The couple got married in 2007 – one of them a widower with three grown-up children and the other a widow with one child.
Witnesses told the court that before their split, the woman had planned to eliminate her husband to acquire the property.
The rulings came against the background of the Succession law recently assented to by President Uhuru Kenyatta. It is meant to offer greater protection to spouses and their immediate families when individuals, particularly breadwinners, pass away.