Domestic Case Law

Amponsah v. Nyamaah Superior Court of Judicature (2009)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Mrs. Amponsah filed for divorce from her husband Mr. Nyamaah. She asked that a property the couple held be partitioned and that she receive her portion of its value. Mr. Nyamaah asserted that the house belonged to his father, who then granted the land to him. He argued that Mrs. Amponsah had no interest in the house, relying on a precedent which held that “a wife by going to live in a matrimonial home, the sole property of the husband, did not acquire any interest therein. She only had a right to live in the matrimonial home as long as the marriage subsisted.” The court held that Mr. Nyamaah’s father was the owner of the house because the papers were in his name, and rejected the evidence that both parties paid water and electric bills as a rebuttal to the presumption. As such, the house was not subject to a partition by the court, because it “did not belong to the couple so it could not be settled on either of the parties.”

Esseku v. Inkoom Superior Court of Judicature (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Property and inheritance rights

Ms. Esseku and Mr. Inkoom had been married for 30 years. The husband claimed to have divorced his wife in 1995 under Muslim tradition and custom. They had one property together, which Mr. Inkoom sold without consulting Ms. Esseku or their five children, all of whom he evicted off the property. The trial court held that the property was a joint property of both parties, and nullified the sale. Examining the evidence, the Superior Court affirmed the holding because Ms. Esseku had made a “substantial contribution” to the property by building an additional two bedrooms to the house. Furthermore, the Court held that even if she had not made a substantial contribution to the acquisition of the property, she still would have been entitled to an equal share of the property because of her valuable considerations made during the marriage, like “the performance of household chores” and the “maintenance of a congenial domestic environment for the respondent to operate and acquire properties.” As such, both parties were entitled to equal shares of the property, and Mr. Inkoom could not sell the house without consulting her first.

Quartson v. Quartson Superior Court of Judicature (2012)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, Gender discrimination, Property and inheritance rights

Ms. Quartson filed for divorce, seeking that Mr. Quartson vacate the home they shared during the marriage. Mr. Quartson solely funded the construction of the house, but Ms. Quartson was the sole supervisor of the home’s construction, ensuring that it was built satisfactorily and taking care of their three children while he was away working as a seafarer. Based on these facts, the Superior Court overturned a trial court decision granting the home to Mr. Quartson, instead holding that because Ms. Quartson ran the household and supervised its construction while her husband was away, she should be entitled to a share of the home’s value. Although there may be circumstances that demonstrate clear evidence that a spouse is not entitled to the property, the Court also held that such circumstances did not exist in the present case. The Court found that Ms. Quartson had interest in the property, and granted her the home.

Mensah v. The Republic Court Martial Appeal Court (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

In 2008, Mr. Mensah married ABI Dosu Theresa when they were both members of the Ghana Armed Forces. Because Mr. Mensah was an officer and Theresa was a female of a different rank, the marriage violated the Armed Forces Act, which requires that for a male officer to marry a lower-ranked woman, the woman must first resign and obtain the “requisite prior approval for her release from the Ghana Armed Forces.” Mr. Mensah was thus dismissed from the Armed Forces. The Court upheld the dismissal, holding that the law was not discriminatory and was a justified means that the Armed Forces used to maintain discipline.

Mensah v. Mensah Supreme Court of Ghana (2011)

Divorce and dissolution of marriage, International law, Property and inheritance rights

The petitioner filed for divorce and sought an equal share of assets acquired during the marriage.  At the time of marriage, neither party owned any property.  During their marriage, the plaintiff assisted in building their business and managed their shop while her husband continued to work for the Controller and Accountant General's Department.  The plaintiff also advised the respondent on property investments.  The respondent denied that the petitioner contributed to the business and claimed that she embezzled money from him, and therefore should not be considered an equal holder of marital assets.  The trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the petitioner, finding that she was a joint owner of the property and was therefore entitled to an equal share of the marital assets.  The Supreme Court affirmed.  Previous case law denied a wife a share in property acquired during the marriage unless the wife could show that she had made a "substantial contribution" to the acquirement of these assets.  Yet, because more recent cases supported the "equality is equity" principle in the division of marital assets, the Supreme Court concluded that "the death knell has been sung to the substantial contribution principle, making way for the equitable distribution as provided for under Article 22 (3) of the Constitution 1992."  Thus, the court held that even if it determined that the petitioner did not make a substantial contribution to the acquisition of marital property, she would still be entitled to a share of the property.  To further support its decision, the Supreme Court referenced Article 1 and Article 5 of CEDAW, in addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emphasize equality between the sexes.