Divorce and property distribution: Why pulling a Hakimi might not be the smartest thing to do in Ghana – Lawyers explain

Hakimi and his ex-wife

Under Ghanaian law, it is illegal to conceal assets from spouses in order to avoid sharing them during a divorce.

Achraf Hakimi, a 24-year-old European footballer who plays for French soccer team PSG, has drawn praise on social media for allegedly blindsiding his wife Hiba Abouk, 36, by moving his riches into his mother’s name and forcing her to end their marriage with nothing.

The footballer’s mother had asked for more than half of his income but was shocked to learn that the PSG star had given his mother’s name to all of his assets, leaving her with nothing.

This strategy might not, however, be as effective in Ghana.

Rendorf Twuamsi Ankrah, a lawyer and partner at Morrison, Twumasi and Partners, asserts that while it is conceivable to transfer income accumulated during a marriage, doing so with the intention of reaping its benefits exclusively is not recommended.

The legal expert on JoyNews’ According to the law, any property obtained during a marriage is presumed to have been acquired jointly under Ghanaian law, and as a result, any activity involving that property must have the express permission of the other spouse.

Hakimi and his mother

“Now in law, we have what we call trust and we also have what we call tracing. As we have already stated, the law presumes that property acquired in the course of a marriage is jointly acquired properties and the new Lands Act puts an impediment in your way that even if you want to use marital property to secure a loan or for whatever it is, you need the consent of the other person and you can’t even register it without the consent of the other party in your sole name. So clearly the position of the law is well established now,” he explained.

He continued by saying that even if a person obtains property during a marriage in the name of a friend, a family member (like your mother did, Hakimi), a business body, or even another human, the property could still be deemed joint property and divided fairly.

“If the other person is able to show that this particular property which is situated here or there was acquired in the course of the marriage based on our joint efforts as spouses even though it is registered in the name of – it doesn’t even matter if it’s a land title – even though it is in the name of Mr Amponsah ‘this property belongs to my husband and myself so court please declare me a joint owner or declare that Mr. Amponsah holds it in trust for both of us’.”

“What needs to be established in such a situation is first and foremost being able to prove that it was acquired in the course of the marriage and was acquired based on the joint efforts of the parties,” he explained.

Regarding what ‘joint efforts’ entail, legal practitioner and partner at Beyuo and Co. Iris Aggrey-Orleans explained that ‘joint efforts’ does not necessarily mean both spouses contributed money to acquire or develop the said property.

Hiba Abouk(Hakimi’s ex-wife)

‘Efforts’ here, she said, could also refer to unpaid care work – i.e. cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking etc. and in the case of a successful footballer even travelling.

“The two of you have put together resources and I will not use the word money because resources could be time, could be energy and it could be money. So you’ve put together resources to acquire property. Upon divorce, whether or not that property is registered in another person’s name, that property becomes a matrimonial asset and you’re entitled to enjoy that equitably,” she said

This law as stated in Article 22 of the 1992 constitution is gender neutral and applies to both spouses.

So how does one protect their right to solely own property acquired during a marriage?

“I think that basically, one must be honest with the spouse. If you intend to own property alone just state it. If you think that the marriage you are in is such that you cannot safely own property and you want to own property and you want to own it alone, just be honest and leave,” Ms Aggrey-Orleans advised.

Or better yet, sign a prenuptial agreement!

SOURCE: Myjoyonline.com

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