Kenya: Court Blocks Absentee Dad From Getting Dowry

10 December 2019

A court in Nakuru has dissolved the marriage of an elderly man who sought to benefit from his daughter's dowry after deserting his family for 27 years.

Mr Joel Lagat Maina, 72, suffered a blow in his bid to benefit from his daughter's dowry after the court declined to grant his prayers for a share in the money.

Senior resident magistrate Yvone Khatambi in her ruling noted that the marriage of Mr Lagat to his wife Joyce Chemutai, 65, was irretrievably broken and had no chances of being salvaged.

She further noted the prayers by Mr Lagat to be given a share of the dowry were not properly made before court and were dismissed on technicalities.

"The marriage between the petitioner and the respondent celebrated on January 31, 1992 is hereby dissolved. The issue of dowry refund was raised in his submission and as a consequence the same must fail," Ms Khatambi said.

The case was filed in October 2018 by Ms Chemutai who sought to block Mr Lagat from demanding a share of the bride price.

According to court documents, the couple got married in 1992 and was blessed with a daughter, whose marriage is the subject of the court case. Ms Chemutai said she decided to leave her matrimonial home 1998 after her husband became cruel.

The court heard that Mr Lagat denied his wife her conjugal rights since 1994 and acted as if she was not his wife before he later married another woman. After the separation, Mr Lagat never bothered about the family nor provided for them.

"The main reason I filed this petition is to stop him from benefiting from our daughter's bride price since he abandoned her while she was still young," said Chemutai. Mr Lagat on his part claimed it was his wife who left the matrimonial home and denied him a chance to take care of his children.

He said Ms Chemutai cut all communication after moving in with another man. Attempts by the court to have the couple reconcile bore no fruits after the wife refused to turn up for mediation negotiations.

The couple agreed to have the case determined by the court with Mr Lagat issuing conditions before divorce.

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