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22.12.2010 General News

New Spousal Property Rights Bill in the Offing!

By myjoyonline
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In addition to the Interstate Succession Law (PNDC Law 111), another Spousal Property Rights Bill has been brought before parliament for ratification. The advocates of the Bill, LAWA Ghana (Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Ghana) are a women's rights not for profit organisation involved in the promotion of policy and rights related to women.

Speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show, Sheila Minka Premoh, a member of LAWA Ghana said that article 22 of the Ghanaian Constitution demands that parliament with respect to spousal Rights, make laws which ensure that properties jointly acquired during marriage are equitably distributed among spouses in the event that the marriage ends, either through death or divorce, and ensure equal access to such properties during marriage.

She said that although a Spousal Property Rights Bill has been put before parliament since March 2010, the process has been lagging and LAWA Ghana seeks to speed-it up and ensure that it comes into effect. She said that although there is the Interstate Succession Act and Interstate Succession Law (PNDC Law 111), there are problems with those provisions and the Spousal Property Rights Bill is intended to address their shortcomings.

A new feature of this bill is the “Cohabitation” provision which empowers spouses who may not have been legally married but have been living together as a couple to enjoy property rights. According to and Hillary Gbedemah, also a member of LAWA, the bill by this provision does not seek to create a new kind of marriage but to protect vulnerable people who have jointly partaken in the acquisition of property and have “held-out” (seen to be man and wife in the public eye) in relationships which have lasted for at least five years.

She explained that even though some spouses may not have contributed monetarily to the ownership of property in a marriage, provisions have been made to cover such spouses who may have done so under the “Contribution in Kind” clause. She stressed that some spouses give non-material contributions such as caring for the children, putting career aspirations on hold in order for the other partner to progress and house-keeping. She said that a list of such contributions have been stipulated in the Spousal Property Bill.

Story by Sedem Ofori/Joy SMS

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