Woman wins judgment over deceased husband’s daughter – She was never married!

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Alice Asantewah Oduro got married to Mr. Robert Oteng on 29th December 2001, under Akan Customary Rites which had witnesses from both parties. Before this, she had cohabited with him from sometime in 1999 and the two lived together in London till Robert’s death in 2010. She didn’t have any need to worry over the legitimacy of her marriage, because no one raised any questions. Especially, not even when a young woman, Abena Dankwah lived with them for about 18 months. Shortly after Robert’s death, however, Alice was confronted with an ugly truth – Robert had a wife from as far back as 1962. The truth that stared at her had two implications – she was never Robert’s wife; the Adenta house she had sold her own uncompleted building to fund was not her property either. Confronted with these nightmares, she did the only thing a citizen could do. She ran to the court!

The High Court in Accra ruled that although the marriage between Alice and Robert was legally void because of her inability to show proof of the dissolution of Robert Oteng’s former marriage, she had provided comfort and other services during the period she lived with the deceased. According to Alice, she did not know that Robert had been previously married and had never been confronted over the validity of her marriage throughout the time they were married.

The court which was presided over by His Lordship Justice Stephen Oppong was also informed that Alice had been made to perform the necessary widowhood rites after Robert’s death. She could however not provide mathematical accuracy on the exact percentage her contribution constituted, towards the purchase of the Adenta residence.

The Court however determined that “even though the Plaintiff could not prove with exactitude how much in percentage terms her contributions, towards the purchase of the disputed property, …, because of the relationship between her and the deceased, she cannot be held to the strict prove with mathematical precision her contributions towards the purchase of the disputed property … there is evidence of monetary contribution …which was not challenged by the defendants. Suffice it to say that, quite apart from the monetary contribution, provision of comfort and other services during the period that thee Plaintiff lived with the deceased, will constitute her contribution in the acquisition of the disputed property.”

Alice Asantewah Oduro has consequently been deemed a joint owner of the Adenta property.