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Marriage not guarantee for equal sharing of matrimonial property – Court

by Editorial Team
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By Michael Odeng

The Court of Appeal (COA) has ruled that marriage does not give a spouse an automatic half-share in the matrimonial property.

The COA justices – Elizabeth Musoke, Muzamiru Kibeedi and Christopher Gashirabake – made the pronouncement on Tuesday (November 15) with other far-reaching consequences on the rights of married persons in matrimonial properties when they divorce.

“A spouse’s share in the matrimonial property is dependent on his/her contribution,” Musoke ruled, adding that contributions can either be in monetary or non-monetary forms or both.

The court ruling follows a divorce case filed by Jackline Aserua against Joseph Ambayo Waigo in the Family Division of the High Court in Kampala in 2012.

The two solemnised their marriage in 2005 at Our Lady of Africa Church, Mbuya, Kampala and developed differences that eventually led to the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage.

According to the judges, the monetary contribution usually consists of “unpaid care and domestic work” rendered by a spouse during the marriage like caring for the children, elderly, and sick members of the family, household chores, and cultivating food for the family, among others.

In their ruling, the judges said 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.”

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