By Harold Ayodo
According to Nicole Wangeci — via email — from Nairobi, their colourful wedding in the capital city three years ago started fading nine months ago.
“My husband started changing in January this year. He turned cold, skipped meals at home and has more office team buildings,” Wangeci says.
Last week, her husband dropped the bombshell that he was in a relationship with his ex-girlfriend and intends to marry her as a second wife.
“My parents were against our marriage from the start arguing he was irresponsible but I was blinded,” Wangeci says.
The mother of a two-year-old daughter now asks if it is possible for her husband to rope in a second wife while their church marriage subsists. According to family law, it is illegal for a man or woman to marry when their statutory marriage exists. Therefore, Wangeci’s husband would commit a marital offence — bigamy, which attracts a jail term of up to five years. Generally, courts are vigilant on such offences relating to marriage as detailed in the Marriage Act.
Take the recent case of a German man married to a Kenyan woman who recently ran into trouble for allegedly tying the knot with another woman. The foreigner was arrested and charged in court, freed on a Sh1 million bond and surety of Sh500,000 as the hearing continues.
Therefore, for Wangeci’s husband to marry his ex-girlfriend, the spouses must divorce in court first. Furthermore, it would also be an offence to secretly wed after giving false declarations, details or statements for purposes of marriage.
Other possible offences would include marrying under a false name towards deceiving the other party or marrying under customary law while a statutory marriage subsists. For Pamela from Nyeri County, they were married under customary law and have three sons aged between 12 and 21 years old.
Pamela, a business woman, says they contributed to purchase land and registered it under his name before constructing a family home. Unfortunately, her husband has been unfaithful over the years and she lately suspects that he may have married his mistress secretly.