Ponde v. Bwalya

The petitioner and the respondent were divorced in the local court where the petitioner was granted custody of the couple’s three children, with the respondent retaining rights of access. The couple were also ordered to share their household goods equally. The petitioner appealed to the High Court in relation to the property adjustment in respect of the matrimonial property and the two houses built on it, acquired during the subsistence of the marriage and in particular, against the award of the smaller house to the respondent on the basis that this was not a just and proper order of property adjustment. In support of his argument, the respondent argued that: (i) the plot was too small to share; (ii) the petitioner should not be compelled to live with his former wife using a single gate and in limited space; and, (iii) the smaller house allocated to the respondent by the court was already occupied by the three children of the family. The High Court held that there is no family property too small to for a former husband and wife to share after divorce. Moreover, the husband’s inconvenience in this context was deemed immaterial; if the physical structures could not be shared, for whatever reason, then, the couple should share the market value of the properties once sold. The High Court noted, on the facts, that the lower court’s decision to grant the petitioner the option to buy the smaller from the respondent after valuation or in the alternative, sell the entire property, and share its market value was perfectly just and correct under the circumstances. Accordingly, it dismissed the appeal with costs.



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