Matrimonial property in Uganda. The new legal regime
COURT OF APPEAL REFINES MATRIMONIAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF SPOUSES
The Court of Appeal presided over by Justices Elizabeth Musoke, Muzamiru Kibeedi and Christopher Gashirabake, JJA, has today made pronouncements with far reaching consequences on the rights of married persons in matrimonial properties when they divorce. In their judgment in Ambayo Versus Aserua Civil Appeal No. 100 of 2015 the court stated that:
- Marriage does not give a spouse an automatic half-share in the matrimonial property.
- A spouse’s share in the matrimonial property is dependent on his/her contribution to it.
- Contribution can take either monetary or non-monetary forms or both.
- The non-monetary contribution usually consists of “unpaid care and domestic work” rendered by a spouse during the marriage like caring for the children, elderly and the sick members of the family, household chores, cultivating food for the family subsistence et cetra.
- When court is determining the value of the “unpaid care and domestic work” rendered during the marriage it should take into account monetary value principles like the value or cost of similar or substitute services available on the labour or service market.
- Where one party has, in the course of the marriage, contributed towards upgrading the other spouse in terms of educating her/him, such contributions should be deducted from the beneficiary spouse’s total claim for “unpaid care and domestic work”.
This decision though very welcome does not solve the bias and unfairness against men in matrimonial proceedings. We argue that the contributions of each spouse to the other spouse must be considered.
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