Your Wife Properties Are Not Yours – Lawyer Tells Men

A Ghanaian lawyer sparked controversy by discussing the unequal treatment of men in marriage regarding property ownership, which caused a commotion on the internet. The Director of the Ghana School of Law highlighted the customary laws of Ghana, emphasizing that, irrespective of circumstances, men cannot claim ownership over property acquired by their wives. During an interview on JoyFM’s Super Morning Show on November 3, the Director argued that, according to customary law, marriage is not viewed as a joint effort. Therefore, it’s considered inappropriate for a man to demand rights to his wife’s possessions after the marriage ends, whether due to death or divorce.

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“Our system of succession bars the husband from the enjoyment of his wife’s self-acquired property. For a wife’s personal property is as a whole her own family property and when she dies, her family will take all of it from her husband’s control,” Mr. Barima Nana Yaw Kodie Oppong quoted J.B. Danquah on customary laws in Ghana.

“And it makes sense because let me ask you, if your wife – touchwood – were to die, and family members come to you, ‘Oh our in-law, we have come to take assess of our wife. Did she also build a house somewhere?’ and you say ‘ah Opanin, have you not heard of Article 22 before, or PNDC law 111 and the like? This is my wife’s property and I have a share in it.’

“Just attempt this exercise or because you don’t want your wife to die, just on dissolution make this argument. Depending on where you come from the insults will be in grades. You dare not,” he said.

He further explained that “It is an abomination for you to even lay claim to your wife’s property. It’s an abomination, that has always been the case.

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“Because when you went to the person’s father’s house to say ‘O Opanin I’ve seen a flower here – referring to the daughter – and I want her to join me in my house so we can make a family, unknown to them you wanted a joint-venture-ship with her and not a marriage so a marriage is not a joint-venture, it ought not be,” he said.

In the opinion of Barima Nana Yaw Kodie Oppong, “it is the responsibility of the man to maintain the wife and the children if there are any. There is no correspondent duty on the wife to do the same.”

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