In the course of a marriage, properties may have been acquired by both spouses jointly or individually.
In joint ownership of a property, a couple cannot purchase or sell the property as, “Mr. and Mrs. David John” (husband & wife) but a couple can purchase, own or sell the property as “Mr. David John and Mrs. Amy John (husband & wife).” This way both individuals are clearly covered separately and not as a single person.
In cases of divorce, the type of marriage determines how properties are shared between parties.
For marriage under the customary (traditional) laws, both parties are allowed to own properties individually. On dissolution of the marriage, the woman has no claims to the properties of the man even if she contributed to its acquisition.
For marriage under the statutory laws, either party can apply to the court for Settlement of Property alongside the divorce petition. Settlement of property is the transfer of property of a party that may be jointly owned to the other spouse.
The verdict is usually for the property to be partitioned for both parties or sold off and the proceeds shared between both parties or one party buys the other party’s share of the property.
For the court to reach a verdict, there is need to provide substantial proof that the petitioner contributed financially or otherwise to the purchase or development of the said property.
In some cases, the properties are settled in favor of the children produced during the marriage.
It is advisable to seek expert advice when acquiring properties as a married couple.
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