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February 22, 2018

Woman loses bid to inherit matrimonial property

The Court of Appeal. Photo/Monicah Mwangi
The Court of Appeal. Photo/Monicah Mwangi

A woman has lost a bid to acquire matrimonial property after the Court of Appeal (pictured) and the High Court dismissed her application.

Court of Appeal judges Alnashir Vishram, Wanjiru Karanja and Martha Koome said despite the woman claiming she was not aware that her ex-husband had filed and obtained divorce, she had remained separated from him.

“Nothing stopped her from seeking the same declarations under the old regime of laws or filing for divorce if she felt it was necessary for her to pursue a claim over matrimonial properties,” the panel ruled.

The judges said they see no injustice on the woman “who sat on her rights for 31 years”.

On the other hand, the ex-husband brought up their five children and gifted each one of them with a property.

“It cannot also be in the public interest that a party can sleep on their rights and wake up one day after 30 years to pursue a claim in land,” the judges ruled.

This arises from an appeal against a judgment of the High Court, in which the woman was seeking to have the share of matrimonial property. The property is three acres in Dagoretti/Waithaka, worth more than Sh5 million.

The woman claimed the suit property was matrimonial property acquired or developed with joint efforts.

The two started cohabiting as husband and wife in 1965. The couple solemnised their marriage under the African Christian and Divorce Act (now repealed) on November 18, 1971.

In September 1982, the woman separated from her ex-husband and went back to her parents.

Her ex-husband sought dissolution of the marriage. The woman, however, denies any knowledge of the divorce.

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