Every other day a man and woman come together to the exclusion of all others to form a marriage. No single couple enters into a marriage with the intention of separating, however contributing factors including but not limited to adultery, cruelty, dissertation to mention but a few, breaks hitherto strong unions. This leads to the inconvenience of dividing what was held under the general principle of “what is mine is yours”. In Kenya, we have the Matrimonial Property Act of 2013, which guides such.
To put it into context, the Act provides for a matrimonial home which refers to the family home where the husband and wife live together with their children. It further provides for matrimonial property which refers to the matrimonial home, house goods and any other tangible or intangible property owned together and acquired during marriage.
Important to note is the levels and nature of contribution towards matrimonial property. The Act provides that what was owned by one spouse before marriage can morph into matrimonial property if it is demonstrated the other staff contributed to the growth of the said property. .
Most people still think that once they are divorced , they have the right to acquire a 50/50 share of the property. Well, that is not the case. The law provides that matrimonial property is owned according to the contribution made in acquiring the property. Therefore, in the event of divorce, the matrimonial property division formula is pegged on levels of contribution.
This therefore begs the question as to what amounts to contribution. Contribution may be monetary or in kind. It is therefore incumbent upon the party claiming property to demonstrate to the court their levels of contribution.
A point to be noted is that partners who live together have no right to lay any claim to property as this Act applies to marriages that have been registered only.