Written by on October 8, 2021

High Court judge Teresia Matheka has declared that being a housewife should be considered a full-time job.

This information has been misinterpreted by many Kenyans that husbands will be paying their housewives monthly salary and this has created confusion in social media.

The judge, who was presiding over a matrimonial property dispute, said that it was rather unfair for courts to rule that housewives have no significant contribution to the financial progression of a family.

To clear this misconception on the judgment, Advocate Gaudence Were from the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (KELIN) digs deep into the matter as per the law of Kenya.

“The law on division of matrimonial property upon divorce has greatly evolved in Kenya. To begin with, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 at Article 45 (3) recognizes that parties to a marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of the marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage. The constitution provides for the enactment of a law that governs property acquired by a couple during a marriage and its distribution upon dissolution of the marriage, that is the Matrimonial Property Act, No 49 of 2013”, said Gaudence  

She continued by quoting Section 2 of the Matrimonial Property Act which identifies contributions to be both monetary and non-monetary. Monetary is quite self-explanatory. The broad interpretation of matters leans more towards the aspect of non-monetary which would include housekeeping, childbearing and caring as well as companionship among other roles in the household. That is to say, upon dissolution of a marriage, housewives can successfully lay claim to properties acquired during the marriage based on their nonmonetary contribution towards the acquisition of such property.

In the recent judgment delivered in the case HCC 246 of 2011: Mary Wambui Versus Antony Njogu, Judge Matheka affirmed stated:-

“This other part of mothering, housekeeping and taking care of the family is more often than not given any value when it comes to sharing matrimonial property. It is easy for the spouse to work away from home and sending money to lay claim to the whole property purchased and developed with that money by the spouse staying at home and taking care of the children and the family. That spouse will be heard to say that the other one was not employed so they contributed nothing. That can no longer be a tenable argument as it is a fact that stay at home parents and in particular women because of our cultural connotations do much more work (housewives) due to the nature of the job.”

The Judge went on to identify that for instance, the concept of surrogacy has made childbearing quantifiable and that raising of children, cooking and cleaning is a fulltime job that families pay other people to do. These aspects of contribution must be taken into consideration in the distribution of property. The contribution further extends to parents who fail to meet their parental responsibility in raising and providing for their children, so that the active parent’s efforts in raising the children will be considered as a contribution towards the acquisition of matrimonial property.

The above discussion notwithstanding, it is important to note that parties do not lose their right to individually own and hold property during the marriage. As was seen

In the judgment, the man was denied access to properties that had been bought and held by the wife as he had not contributed to the acquisition of the property.

Justice Matheka made the statements as she read her ruling in a case where a divorced lady sought to have their family property sold and the money shared equally between her and her ex-husband.

She ruled that the property be sold and money shared equally, or one of the spouses buy out the other party by paying half the value of the property that the party is entitled to.

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