MP’s seek to cut former spouses down to size in new amendments

The Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill 2013 was amended by MP’s to remove a clause that allow divorcees and ex’s to seek court protection against their ex-lovers.

Spouses who fight and insult each other in front of their children could be jailed.

The MPs excluded any relationship outside what the law recognises as a “ marriage” from being classified as “domestic”.

The bill now awaits President Uhuru Kenyatta’s assent.

In the original bill, ex-spouses were listed as family members and would be entitled to protection and court settlements under laws dealing with domestic violence.

This was changed after some MPs were quick to point out the “inconvenience” of a person being arraigned in court on charges of domestic violence against a person with whom they no longer shared a house.

If the clause had stood, it would have presented an awkward situation for estranged spouses, especially as the law gives a strict definition of harassment within a domestic relationship, including “loitering” near places where a former partner could be having a cup of tea.

The bill was introduced through the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga (URP).

The law seeks to protect family members, including children exposed to violence by people close to them, clauses touching on former spouses alarmed MPs who ganged up to ensure they were deleted.

The bill seeks to recognise that domestic violence in all its forms is unacceptable behaviour, to provide for the intervention of the courts to reduce and prevent violence in domestic relationships and to ensure that where domestic violence occurs, there is effective legal protection and relief for its victims,” the bill reads.

The MPs were determined to cut former spouses down to size, and passed another amendment that narrows the meaning of domestic relationship by deleting references to ex-spouse, engaged partner, or a person one has a child with.

Credits: Standard

Male victim of domestic abuse speaks out

The male victim of horrendous domestic abuse has come forward to show his scars, telling men: “Being attacked by a woman is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Ken Gregory, 65, suffered first and second degree burns to 14 per cent of his body last March after his now ex-wife Teresa Gilbertson, 60, tipped a kettle of boiling water over the back of his head.

Mr Gregory,  met Gilbertson seven years ago following the death of his first wife of 30 years.

On the anniversary of her death, Mr Gregory intended to visit her grave but he and Gilbertson argued, eventually agreeing to divorce.

It was then that Gilbertson, who is now awaiting sentencing for a conviction of serious bodily harm, went to make a cup of tea but instead returned with a jug of boiling water – which she poured over her husband’s head.

Mr Gregory wants to address the stigma surrounding men who are abused by their wives and partners. He added, “it should be the same message that they put out for women – don’t be frightened, you don’t have to put up with it.”

male victim 3 male victim1 male  victim

Credits : Independent

Divorce laws : What you need to know

Divorce is a touchy subject for many couples either considering it or going through it. There are different reasons why people opt for divorce; infidelity is however considered the main reason for many of these.

However there is information that one needs to know before they applying for divorce under Kenyan laws.

After what period of cohabiting does a couple become married under common law?

 It would have to be at least two years under the Marriage Act. The period has to be continuous. Not one month together and the next somewhere else. However under common law the courts would have to take into account the following:

  • Do the people living around you consider you to be a couple?
  • Do you act like a couple?
  • Do you have children together?
  • Do you engage in activities like a couple like buying land or have joint investments?

After what period of separation is a couple allowed to file for divorce?

One year of separation

During the divorce proceedings can a couple stay in the same house?

Yes. But if it’s a separation they are not allowed to stay in the same house unless with permission from the court under exceptional circumstances.

If a spouse moves out of the matrimonial home, can that be used as grounds for divorce with the argument being “abandonment”?

A spouse has to be away for 3 years for abandonment to take effect and be used as a basis for divorce. It can also be used if one is jailed for 7 years.

In the event of adultery does one have to provide proof?

YES. One needs to prove either by showing statements, texts, facebook messages or video/ phone recordings, emails etc. Photos can also be used as evidence.

In the above case, does it affect the decision on who gets the children and or the division of assets?

Adultery affects custody but not division of assets.

Is one allowed to date during the divorce or the separation period? 

YES, however most keep it hidden due to future custody battles or division of assets. Some may be slightly affected or worried of the judge’s perception of their character or their needs or suffering incurred or to be incurred in future.

Does the property have to be divided 50/50? If yes, on what grounds?

The division of property does not have to be 50/50. It varies from case to case. The factors considered are numerous:-

  • Custody of children
  • Debts
  • Medical needs
  • Other legal responsibilities – being a surety

 In the event that a couple has children, what grounds are used to grant or deny custody?

  • Financial capability of parents
  • Age is a factor since infants can’t address the courts
  • Mental capability
  • Individual responsibility and competence of each party
  • Geographical location that suits the children’s best needs.
  • Age of children. The younger the children the more likely they will stay with the mother unless she is considered irresponsible.
  • The children’s best interest is the CARDINAL RULE used to determine who gets custody

In reference to above question who is supposed to provide? Is it 50/50? 

  • The responsibility is split between the parents in a ratio as to means of financial capability.
  • Time is also a consideration as a stay home parent for a child with special needs.
  • The level of maintenance is that which the children and spouse were subjected to before dissolution of the marriage.

Can a divorce be settled out of court?

  • No.  Any agreement entered out of court has to be confirmed and consented to by the Judge in a Court of law. There is no other option.

This information was obtained from Brian Kwarula, a Nairobi based Lawyer.

Refugees could soon become citizens if new law is passed

Refugees in Kenya could soon apply and be granted citizenship, if a proposed law is passed and adopted.

The law being drafted by the Department of Refugee Affairs will replace the Refugee Act of 2006, which the government said has failed to address refugee issues adequately.

The bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament before the end of the year.

The DRA commissioner Harun Komen said the bill considers granting citizenship to refugees who have stayed in the country for at least five years upon applying.

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No Alcohol will be allowed at the stadiums

FKF has released a statement informing football stakeholders in the country that in relation to a policy decision made during the FKF/KPL Joint Executive Committee meeting, sale and consumption of alcohol at football grounds is prohibited for security reasons.

The statement further adds that the policy will apply to all matches organized and authorized by FKF and urges clubs to make proper arrangements to ensure that fans do not get into their grounds with alcoholic beverages. The statement concluded by saying that fans who attempt to go against the rule should be barred from entering the venue.