Entitlements upon divorce

I have been married ten years, am sick of my husband and want a divorce. I have been a stay-home wife and have not financially contributed directly to the acquisition of various properties that my husband acquired during the pendency of marriage. He always used to tell me that I had brought good luck to him in that, after we got married, he made tonnes of money. My husband knows I want a divorce but has told me point blank that, if I ever file for divorce, I will be on the streets and he will not maintain or pay me. He also keeps mentioning that all the assets belong to him or his family members. It is true that I have not brought any hard cash home, but I have assisted in supervising all his businesses. Am I not entitled to anything? How can I proceed? In this harsh world, I will not survive a day if my husband kicks me out without any payment?
6 February 2012

You have not mentioned the reasons you seek a divorce. In Tanzania you cannot merely agree on getting divorced; the Law of Marriage Act provides for specific reasons like adultery, cruelty, desertion, that one must adduce to get divorced. The Court must also be satisfied that the marriage has broken down irreparably before making any orders for divorce.

In the event you proceed to file for divorce, there are lots of Court decisions to guide you about your rights. These decisions include one famous case by the Court of Appeal of Tanzania, which ruled that domestic chores count as a contribution to the acquisition of matrimonial properties. Since you have assisted your husband by taking care of the home in his absence, including supervising the said family businesses, you are entitled to an equal share of the matrimonial properties much as he is entitled to the same. Generally speaking, it does not matter whether the property is in his name or yours.

Your husband seems to think that he can get away by merely throwing you out. This is not the case, and the law comes to your protection. Your husband should read about some famous divorces, where the husbands became poorer. Examples include media magnate Rupert Murdoch, former basketball star Michael Jordan, former golf champion Tiger Woods, movie director Steven Spielberg, Actor Harrison Ford and singer Lionel Richie, whose divorce settlements were worth billions of shillings.

We must warn you that if, at any time, you have used matrimonial properties in a manner to have wasted them, for example, in buying unnecessary jewellery or used funds flamboyantly, these amounts will be deducted from sums payable to you. Our advice here is only meant as a guide and is not meant to further spoil or strain your relationship. You might want to consult a marriage counsellor for further advice.