European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Consolidating Family Law in Kenya

Keywords family law, matrimonial, marriage, equality, reform
Authors Dr. Lucyline Nkatha Murungi
Author's information

242132 Dr. Lucyline Nkatha Murungi
Dr. Murungi is a Kenyan national, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, and a researcher in human rights with a keen focus on children and disability rights. She holds a Master of Laws in human rights from the University of Pretoria and a Doctorate in Law from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. Dr. Murungi is currently the Head of the Children and the Law Programme at the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) based in Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, and a Research Fellow of the Community Law Centre, UWC.
  • Abstract

      Following the adoption of a new Constitution in 2010, Kenya embarked on an extensive process of law reform in order to give effect to the provisions of the Constitution. Accordingly, in 2014, two main statutes were adopted in the area of family law: the Matrimonial Property Act and the Marriage Act. In addition, parliamentary discussion of a Bill on domestic violence was underway as of March 2015. The main outcome of the Marriage Act is the consolidation of family laws that were previously covered in multiple statutes, customary law, and common law in one Act. The Matrimonial Property Act is the first Kenyan legislation on the subject, and is therefore a critical development in Kenya’s family law. The new family laws embrace a number of significant developments at the national and international levels in relation to matrimonial relations. However, the new laws also raise concerns in a number of areas of family law including; the equality of men and women in marriage, the capacity of persons with disabilities to consent to marriage, the rights of spouses to matrimonial property, kinds of marriage, and registration of marriages. This article discusses the approach of these laws to selected issues in marriage and matrimonial property, and highlights areas of concern in this regard.

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