Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

No 50-50 wealth share after divorce, says court

No 50-50 wealth share after divorce, says court

In a ruling on Monday, the court said that, upon separating, each couple will only be entitled to what they contributed during the union.

Judge Mativo was quoted as saying, "a person can not walk into a marriage and then walk out with more than what they deserve".

Fida was concerned that women were disadvantaged by the law as, since a lot of them are housewives, their contribution to the acquisition of property can not be monetised.

However, Justice John Mativo dismissed the case declaring that in case of divorce parties in a marriage are only entitled to their shares contributed in acquiring the property and not 50:50 sharing as argued by FIDA.

"Ownership of matrimonial property vests in the spouses in equal shares irrespective of the contribution of either spouse towards its acquisition, and shall be divided equally between the spouses if they divorce or their marriage is otherwise dissolved", the organization stated in its petition.

Mativo said the Act recognises monetary and non-momentary contributions.

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But she also warned against an "unnecessarily aggressive" approach. "We can say 'Hey guys, on a really basic level you haven't filled your quota so hi, I'm here to fill your quota!'".

The court said that the issue was "a family affair".

The court said the law talks of parties to a marriage, which means both men and women, and does not specifically refer to women.

Justice Mativo further ruled that the section does not offend any sections of the Constitution.

The argument by Fida that the Bill was passed amid protest in Parliament was also rejected by the court, saying it was subjected to a vote as required and it sailed through after the majority voted in its favour.

The Federation of Women Lawyer (Fida) had challenged the constitutionality of Section 7 of the Matrimonial Properties Act, alleging it was discriminatory.

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