Come-we-stay + 6 months = marriage

Ladies and gents, this is a warning. That femme fatale or hunky of man that you accidentally started sharing a home with – has it been six months? If it has then according to the government, you are now considered husband and wife.

The Cabinet on Thursday, in a meeting chaired by our beloved President Mwai Kibaki, approved a bill that will recognize the widespread Come-We-Stay arrangements that have exceeded half a year.

According to the Marriage Bill, your local chief (get his number) will be able to register that budding ‘come-we-stay’ affair as a marriage. Whether you are Muslim, Christian or Hindu, the local chief will not discriminate.

Marriages consummated under Civil and African Customary law also fall under this bracket.

A statement from the Presidential Press Service has described one of the Marriage Bill’s purposes as ‘protection of the rights of children and spouses in all types of marriages’.

The Marriage Bill provides for maintenance of spouses and children in a situation where a marriage has broken down or divorce has occurred. This applies to either men or women.

The statement says nothing about dowry, so if ladies are waiting for cows, goats, chicken or cats to seal the deal – know that it’s not compulsory.

Come we stay unions are extremely popular among Kenyan youth nowadays and this Bill provides welcome and not-so-welcome changes to these pairings.

You might want to carefully assess how this makes you feel; does it make you want to stand by your partner or run out the door and start looking for an apartment.

It’s prudent to remember that the registration will only happen with mutual consent, but when it comes to lawsuits and such, the six month rule will definitely be considered.

The Cabinet also passed a law which if approved by Parliament will see pre-nuptial contracts and equal rights to spouses became legal.

The Matrimonial Property Bill provides for the rights and responsibilities of spouses in relation to matrimonial property. It recognizes the capacity of either spouse to acquire separate property during marriage.

It also makes provisions for how persons professing the Islamic faith should be governed by Islamic law in all matters relating to matrimonial property.

Further, the Bill provides for how matrimonial property shall be dealt with in cases of polygamous as well as customary marriages.

Copies of the Marriage and Matrimonial Property Bills can be found at the Government Printers.

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