Two women from Kajiado and Murang’a Counties have been dealt a blow after the High Court ruling that living in a man’s house or having his name on an Identification Document (ID) is not a proof of marriage.
In the first case, the woman had moved to court seeking orders to compel a man she identified as her husband to give her a share of money from the sale of a house in Ngong.
The woman codenamed NMM claimed that she met the man in 2009 and in 2016 they agreed she should move into the house since he was based in the US.
NMM told Justice Chacha Mwita that she was aware that the man she called her husband had another wife in the US.
She also told the court that the man identified as JM was responsible for her child’s upkeep although he was not the minor’s biological father.
The court heard that she gave the man Ksh840,000 to service a loan he had taken to build the contested house.
The woman claimed that JM visited her parents and even attended a relative’s burial. She said that the man also gave her father Ksh100,000 and was present at his burial in 2017.
The man’s actions, she told Justice Mwita, were proof of love and customary marriage.
The property dispute emanated from the sale of the piece of land which was occupied by the house to the Kenya Railways during the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway.
The woman said JM requested that the money be deposited in his bank account in the US.
She also complained that the man wanted to sell a car she believed was for the family’s use.
NMM’s brother and brother-in-law testified on her behalf, saying they recognised JM to be her husband.
However, JM denied that NMM was his wife. He told the court that she was a friend from his home area who he had allowed to live in his house while he was away.
JM told the court that he bought the property in question for Ksh1.6 million after getting a loan from Kenya Commercial Bank in 2013. He said he repaid the money without the woman’s help.
He noted that he attended the burials cited by NMM as a friend.
Justice Mwita said the court would not rule on the marriage claims because NNM had filed a separate claim before the magistrate’s court seeking orders to validate the union.
The judge, however, noted that the house in question was built three years before she moved in ruling that the woman had failed to prove she had contributed, either directly or indirectly, to the purchase or development of the property.
“It is clear to this court that the plaintiff made a faint attempt to get from the defendant what she was not entitled to,” the judge ruled.
The second woman had moved to a Murang’a court seeking to inherit a man’s estate in the county.
However, Justice Kanyi Kimondo declined to grant the woman’s plea despite having his name on her ID.
In the ruling, Justice Kanyi found that although Rose Wangari had lived with Stephen Ngigi for three years and taken his name, she could not prove he had conducted Gikuyu customary marriage rites like paying the bride price.
Some of the “evidence” the woman had tabled in court include a photograph showing her seated next to Ngigi’s coffin.
Wangari also claimed that the deceased who died at the age of 78 years had bought her mother two parcels of land as her bride price.
The deceased’s daughter, Faith Wangui, claimed that Wangari had been a house help.