Men who have failed to formalize their relationships with their companions could soon see their properties shared with such women even if they failed to perform the necessary marriage rites.
Currently, two new bills before Parliament, Property Rites of Spouses Bill and Intestate Succession Bill, aim to ensure that men and women who may have acquired property in the course of their relationship would have such properties divided at the dissolution of the union.
A key provision of the Bills, which deals with Cohabitation, states that a man and woman who live together for five continuous years are regarded as married in the eyes of the law, and are enjoined by the provisions of married persons.
Section 3 (1) states: Cohabitation refers to a situation in which a man and woman hold themselves out to the public to be man and wife. (2) Persons who have cohabited for a period of five years or more shall be deemed to be spouses and have the rights of spouses for the purposes of this Act.
Speaking on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem on Thursday, Mrs. Sheila Menkah Premo said the new bills are aimed at ensuring that women who have contributed to the success of a union should enjoy the fruits of their labour.
She explained that other key provisions of the bills define what a marriage is in a court of law, transactions related to the matrimonial home, debts incurred before marriage, and marital property agreement.
Mrs. Menkah Premo said although the bills have been in the works for a long time, some male parliamentarians, perhaps scared by the provisions, have been dragging their feet on its passage.
She said the existing law about divorce did not make provision for woman whose marriage rites were not perform, who were always on the losing end.
On her part, the Executive Director for African Women Lawyers Association, Edna Kumah said when this law is passed judges sitting on spousal cases will adjudicate such cases because sharing of property for the number of years lived together will no more be a problem.