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Can I opt out of my marriage?

By | June 5th 2011


Dear Harold,

My wife and I courted for three years before we did a church wedding. While on honeymoon, my wife disclosed that she was two months pregnant with her boss’s child. I have been undergoing depression that is affecting my productivity at work. She has asked me to forgive her but my heart is already out of the marriage. I have talked to my friends about it and resolved to opt out. Is it possible?

Brian, Nairobi.

Dear Brian,

It is possible to seek orders to revoke the marriage in court, especially if you were not aware of her pregnancy before the wedding. There is also the option of forgiving her and accepting parental responsibility of the child even if you are not the biological father.

Generally, Family Law provides for grounds to nullify marriages — within a year — in which, a spouse hid facts from the other. For instance, if either spouse has was denied conjugal rights or either suffered from a sexually transmitted infection at the time of marriage without the knowledge of the other.

Other grounds are if either spouse suffered recurrent fits of insanity or epilepsy but kept the condition secret. Wives can also seek nullity within twelve months if husbands are permanently impotent or either spouse is incapable of making love at the time of the marriage.

Others include whether the spouses are related by blood or former husband or wife was alive and was not divorced. Interestingly, courts can also revoke marriages whose consent was obtained by force, mistake, threats or treachery. Lack of genuine consent to marriage can also be caused by intoxication through drink or drugs.

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