High court Judge Majanja has in a ruling on a matrimony case brought before him ruled a couple who have been cohabiting as man and wife for a period of time, does not necessary have to undergo customary traditions to formalise the union for it be considered legal.
In the case brought before him, there was a tussle between a man who had cohabited with a woman for seven years and the woman’s parents on who had the rights to bury her following her demise, with the former arguing that she was his wife and the latter maintaining that their daughter was single since no customary marriage had been in place.
Gwako argued that he and Lydiana Chepng’eno lived as man and wife and even had two children together and it was therefore wrong for the in-laws to deny him the right to bury his wife.
His Mother in Law however argued that the man had never sought for their daughter’s hand in marriage and therefore based on their knowledge she wasn’t married.
Judge Majanja however in a ruling that could now be used as a precedent to validate “come we stay unions, which are popular in Kenya, ruled that based on a written agreement written between Gwako and the deceased, declaring that they were living as man and wife and also going by the period the two lived together, the absence of a customary marriage ceremony doesn’t not invalidate the union.
The judge allowed the claimant to bury his wife.
In 2012, The Cabinet approved a law, The Marriage Bill, which will recognise come-we-stay arrangements of over six months as legal marriages.