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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Ghana

  • Mensah v. Mensah, Ghana, Supreme Court, 2011.

    Ms. Mensah filed for divorce, seeking an equal share of assets acquired during the marriage.  At the time of marriage, neither Ms. Mensah nor Mr. Mensah owned any property.  After their marriage, Ms. Mensah assisted in building up their business and managed their shop while her husband continued to work for the Controller and Accountant General's Department.  Ms. Mensah also advised Mr. Mensah on investment in properties.  However, Mr. Mensah denied that Ms. Mensah contributed to the business and claimed that she embezzled money from him and therfore should not be considered an equal holder of marital assets.  

    The trial court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Mensah, finding that she was a joint owner of the property and was therefore entitled to an equal share of the marital assets.  The Supreme Court affirmed.  Previous case law denied a wife a share in property acquired during the marriage unless the wife could show that she had made a "substantial contribution" to the acquirement of these assets.  Yet, because more recent cases supported the "equality is equity" principle in the division of marital assets, the Supreme Court concluded that "the death knell has been sung to the substantial contribution principle, making way for the equitable distribution as provided for under Article 22 (3) of the Constitution 1992."  Thus, the court held that even if it determined that Ms. Mensah did not make a substantial contribution to the acquisition of marital property, she would still be entitled to a share of the property.  To further support its decision, the Supreme Court referenced Article 1 and Article 5 of CEDAW, in addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which emphasize equality between the sexes.