My wife made the money, now she wants to leave me penniless

Photo: Courtesy

My wife and I have been living positively with HIV for more than eight years. She has been providing more because she has a well paying job while I work as an underwriter. This has never been a problem for us but since she started succumbing to the opportunistic infections, she has changed to this arrogant and selfish woman even claiming that I infected her with the virus. She wants a divorce and she says that she worked hard for all the property we have and that I am not entitled to any share. This is true because she has always been earning the big money but I thought that I was entitled to a portion of the family wealth if we separated. She says that if I am man enough I should not claim anything from her. I don't have enough money for a lawyer so I need your help. Do I have a right to claim a share of the property we have acquired in our marriage in the event of divorce? {Ernest}

Your Take:

Ernest, if your wife is pushing for a divorce then ask her to follow the right process by filing for it. However, also try and find out why she wants the divorce. Maybe she has found another lover. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have money to hire a lawyer because we have “Kituo Cha Sheria” that can handle your case at subsidized rates. For the infection let her produce evidence that you infected her.

{Onyango Outha}

Ernest, this is the not the right time for all this. Rather, this is the time you should be closer to each other than ever before. However, before you end the marriage, involve other people who may save the situation. Seek advice and assistance from any other source before considering legal action.

{Fred Jausenge}

If I were you I would focus more on making her health better. It is normal for a person who is unwell to behave the way she does. Focus on her health because the wealth you are so much desirous of may be even in someone else’s name.

{Tasma Charles}

What your wife is going through is actually resentment from the disease that is currently in the family. One temptation you should always avoid is to act clingy and as though you cannot live without her. Being a man means to be strong to stand again after falling. Instead of hiring a lawyer to help you get a share of her property, work hard so the same thing does not happen in future.

{Ouma Ragumo}

The sudden change of behavior is due to the stress and trauma associated with HIV. However, if she persists on divorce; allow her to move court since the onus of proving the elements of divorce (cruelty, adultery and desertion) is on her.

In event that she succeeds in the divorce case, you need not to be worried as you are catered for by Article 45 of the Constitution of Kenya and Matrimonial Property Act of 2014. Both of you are entitled to equal rights after the dissolution of the marriage regardless of material and financial contribution towards acquisition of the matrimonial property.

{Ojou Robert}

Counselor’s Take:

Ernest, at present, you are way past that discussion about who infected who with the virus. That is a futile discussion to indulge focus in. The focus should be on assisting each other to lead healthy lives so you may live longer.

You are of course aware that HIV affects the body’s immune system thereby rendering it vulnerable to infections and diseases. Stress is also known to affect our immune system therefore by increasing the stress levels in your marriage, you are putting your health at risk.

Nonetheless, on another front the law is very clear in the present time about matrimonial property. In 2014, parliament passed two land-mark laws i.e. the Marriage Act and the Matrimonial Properties Act. The Matrimonial Properties Act defines matrimonial property as assets acquired in the course of the marriage. It also recognizes spousal contribution (monetary and non-monetary) to the acquisition of all matrimonial property.

Despite the fact that she contributed much more to the matrimonial property, you have to a large extent contributed in monetary and non-monetary terms to these acquisitions. It is therefore clear that you are entitled to a reasonable share of the assets and partly to liabilities incurred in the process of acquiring the properties. Your share may not necessarily be 50 per cent but it is definitely a relative and reasonable share.

I think I understand her fears; she is worried that she may pass on before thereby leaving you with all the properties she has worked hard to acquire. She may be worried that you will remarry thereby bring another woman to enjoy the fruits of her labour.

If this is her worry, you may want to encourage her that she still has a long life ahead and that you are destined to be together. This should not be a cause for conflict in the family as what is rightfully yours will definitely be yours.

Do not appear to be too concerned about the properties and how they should be divided rather show more concern for her health and well-being. Maybe she is just testing you to see your reaction and by putting up a fight, you will be playing right into her hands.

Live life one day at a time and again, show more concern for her well-being. The only thing is to ensure that you are not coerced into signing anything that may be used to erode your interests in any or all the matrimonial properties you have acquired in the course of your marriage. {Taurus}




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