My sister’s husband wants her out of their home - Mirror Lawyer responds
Dear Mirror Lawyer, My sister's husband has been telling her to leave his house for some time now. But my sister ignores him and takes it that quarrels happen in marriages so that should not end the marriage.
Lately, her husband has told her to leave because he does not love her, and she is no longer his wife. He even brought his nephew and brother to ask my sister to leave the house.
It has been disturbing and traumatic for my sister so last month she packed a few items and left the house. She is now at our house. Is that behaviour, right?
Francis Adams, Accra
Dear Francis, The law has put in place the conditions parties interested in themselves must fulfil before they can marry and be recognised as husband and wife.
In the same way, when the love which brought them together grows cold and they are no longer interested in themselves, the law prescribes steps which must be followed before the marriage can be dissolved and any properties acquired distributed equitably so that they go their separate ways. This is necessary for an orderly society to thrive unlike the animal’s kingdom where might is right.
Your brother-in-law is entitled to stay on in the marriage to your sister or if he is not interested in the marriage take the appropriate steps recognised by law to dissolve the marriage to your sister.
Every such decision has its consequences. I believe it is an attempt to escape the harsh effects of the consequences that may have prompted your brother-in-law to adopt such acts of intimidation with the view to forcing your sister out of the house. His action is against the law.
In the first place, your sister has an interest in the house if it was acquired during marriage whether she contributed money to the acquisition or not.
The position of the law is if they were blessed with children who were looked after at home by your sister or your sister was in charge of the household, taking care of the children, cooking for the family, performing the household chores and warming the marriage bed, all that will qualify as her contribution towards the properties acquired during marriage.
The legal position is that in such circumstances, it was considered that the husband would have been freed by the wife who had stopped her job, to concentrate on his work and earn money for the acquisition of matrimonial property.
As a result of this, it would only be fair and just that when the marriage had broken down, the wife's services in the home should be regarded as her contribution towards the acquisitions and she should not be sent away empty handed while the husband kept all the property.
Secondly, your sister did not marry your brother-in-law’s nephew and brother and therefore, they had no authority to come to the house and order her out of the matrimonial home.
Thirdly, the behaviour of your brother-in-law and his brother and nephew constitutes domestic violence which is punishable under the Domestic Violence Act, 2007, Act 732.
Under that law, economic abuse, namely the deprivation or threatened deprivation of economic or financial resources which a person is entitled to by law, the disposition or threatened disposition of moveable or immovable property in which another person has a material interest and hiding or hindering the use of property or damaging or destroying property in which another person has a material interest constitutes domestic violence.
Again emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, namely any conduct that makes another person feel constantly unhappy, miserable, humiliated, ridiculed, afraid, jittery or depressed or to feel inadequate or worthless in the home also constitutes domestic violence.
The issues raised by you are technical in nature. A person without legal expertise may not appreciate the best approach to navigate his way to get the best remedy for your sister.
I will advise her to engage the services of a competent lawyer to advise her and represent her interest in this domestic dispute.