Why wazees dump their wives at 50
It is said that love often wears out in the first few years of marriage, and that the glue that holds the two souls together after the first five years is tolerance. But the million-dollar question is what makes couples to drift apart after 20 years of putting up with ‘annoying in-laws’, infidelity, spendthrift nature, tantrums, insecurities and trust issues?
Rose Mbanya, a family advocate, believes that apart from the empty nest syndrome (when the children who were glueing the family together leave home), a partner may decide that there is no point of staying together.
“Many things trigger divorce past the age of 35 years, but what is prevalent, in the cases I have handled, are financial issues, especially when the couple was used to a certain lifestyle and can no longer cope with changes.”
She adds that, “There’s also the issue of familiarity, in which case you take each other for granted, and when midlife crisis hits, you start to wonder if there’s something more.”
Morgan Omusundi, a family lawyer based in the city, agrees with Mbanya to some extent, but adds that the older generation are forced to adapt to lifestyle changes. Like most spouses in the country today, older couples have realised that marriage is not a do-or-die covenant and becoming a single parent is not as shameful as before.
“Some older couples divorce when their kids who are now older discover that their parents have not been married but living as housemates for their sake,” Omusundi said, adding that at other times, men go for ‘sponsees’ due to middle-life crisis.
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But not all old-age divorce cases are triggered by loneliness or money issues. Jane Wanuna asked the High Court through her lawyer to grant her a divorce from her Cameroonian husband after she discovered that her man had three children in Cameroon.
She also stated that she found items used for rituals in her Kyuna home and made an appeal to women who have worked hard not to fall prey to men without knowing them well.
Whatever the case, experts advise couples to settle their scores in an amicable way for the sake of their children. “In cases where children are over 18, they are legally regarded as adults and can make their own decisions. But in the event they are under 18 years, there are issues regarding custody and maintenance,” says family advocate Rose Mbanya.
But now, with the amendment of the Marriage Act, even those who went for customary marriages can now be registered. “The Marriage Act of 2014 states that customary marriages can be registered and in case of a divorce, dissolution can be done under customary law. But this is yet to be implemented.
Rose also advises that in a case where a couple is seeking divorce and property that was acquired during the marriage is contested, the property is regarded as matrimonial property.
However, if the property was acquired and registered in one of the spouse’s name, the other party will have to prove that they had contributed towards its acquisition, improvement or development. But in case the property is registered in both spouses’ names, it will be shared equally.