Without the presence of a valid Will, the Intestate Succession Law, 1985 promotes spousal inheritance of property and assets, recognises the spouse(s) of the deceased, their biological or adopted children, surviving parents, and the customary family, prioritising spouses, and children.
Mr John Ato Breboh, the Senior Principal Investigator, Tema Regional Office of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has stated and, therefore, urged women not to give up on their matrimonial property rights.
He explained that Ghana’s customary legal regimes as regards inheritances could be meaningfully divided into two broad categories: matrilineal and patrilineal traditions.
Mr Breboh made the statement during an interaction with the ‘Hen Ara Nkonkonko Kuw’ of Tema Community One, on the topic: “Matrimonial Property Right,” as part of a comprehensive citizen sensitization programme started by CHRAJ Tema Regional Office.
The citizen engagement was to educate them on specific issues of human rights, child marriage, domestic abuse, violence, and other functions of the commission and empower the public to seek redress in case of infractions on their rights.
Mr Breboh said one of the most prevailing systems of devolution of property under customary law was the primogeniture rule. Primogeniture is the right by custom, of the firstborn son to inherit the entire estate to the exclusion of younger siblings and of course, the effect is that women are denied inheritance or succession.
He explained that as a result of some of the traditional norms on inheritance, women faced a lot of matrimonial issues within the marriage and when the man die.
He, therefore, encouraged women going through any such challenges to seek help through CHRAJ; “investigations would be carried out, and right actions including advising the victim what line of legal actions to take”.
Mr. Breboh also advised women to investigate the background of people who would represent their husband during the performance of the marital rites, “you must be sure whether the relatives present are truly from the man’s family.
“Friends and church members are not relatives and cannot represent the family of the groom in the performance of the marital rites”.
The CHRAJ Senior Principal Investigator said “a wife has an equal right to the inheritance acquired within the marriage, especially when it was customary. If the man decides to marry another wife, the second wife has rights only in the property acquired during her tenure as the second wife, the first wife has an equal share in it”.
Mrs Grace Andam Esiamah, the President of ‘Hen Ara Nkonkonko Kuw,’ commended CHRAJ Tema Regional Office for the initiative, stressing that women needed such guidance.
She encouraged women confronted with matrimonial issues to visit CHRAJ for direction and legal advice.