Kenya: Dispute Over Dowry Pushes Elderly Couple to Divorce Court

15 August 2019

An elderly couple's divorce will proceed at a Nakuru court as their efforts to reconcile have been unsuccessful.

Senior Resident Magistrate Yvonne Khatambi noted that 72-year-old Joel Lang'at and Joyce Chemutai, 65 had failed to resolve their dispute outside court.

The court heard that the two, who are fighting to benefit from their daughter's dowry, did not reach an agreement so Ms Chemutai filed a suit seeking to divorce her husband.

They have been separated for more than 20 years.


Ms Chemutai, through her lawyer, told the court that their marriage was beyond saving and urged the court to schedule the hearing.

The case will be mentioned first before Ms Chemutai is allowed to serve her husband with the hearing notice.

The court said this will be the case since Mr Lang'at was not in court.

The parties in the case were asked to file and serve all the relevant documents before August 27, when the case will be mentioned.


In the suit filed in October 2018, Ms Chemutai says her husband demanded a share of their daughter's bride price yet they have been separated for years and she has been taking care of the children alone.

"We have been separated for more than 20 years. We were joined together on January 31, 1992, at the office of the Registrar of Marriages after living together for years," her petition states.

In January, Mr Lang'at pleaded with the court to grant him one month to reconcile with his wife.

He went back to court in March, seeking an extension and was given the last chance.


According to the suit, Mr Lang'at abandoned Ms Chemutai for no good reason and denied her the chance to enjoy her marriage.

"The respondent deserted the petitioner without cause or consent. He withdrew from cohabitation with the petitioner and denied her the conjugal rights at their matrimonial home in Salgaa, Rongai, in Nakuru county," reads the suit.

Mr Lang'at also accused his wife of desertion, saying she was unfaithful and cut off all communication with him.

He also said she denied him the chance to live with his children.

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