Achiampong v. Achiampong [1982-83] GLR 1017-1039:
The appellant and respondent were husband and wife respectively till they divorced in 1979. During their marriage, the couple lived in a house acquired by the man on hire-purchase terms prior to his marriage to the respondent. Although the respondent had expressed her interest to acquire her own house, the appellant convinced her to utilize her resources for the upkeep of the house whilst he utilizes his resources to pay the monthly instalments on the house. The respondent also used her personal resources to renovate and make extensions to the house by adding two more new bedrooms inter alia. When the couple divorced in 1979, the respondent (wife) claimed joint ownership of the house and that she should be granted an equal share of the house.
At the High Court, it was held that the wife had a beneficial interest in equal shares with the husband and granted her a half-share in the house to the wife. The husband appealed.
Whether or not the respondent is a joint owner of the house acquired by the appellant prior to their marriage?
Arguments of the Appellant:
1. That the trial judge erred in holding that the house in dispute was a joint property, there being no evidence to that effect.
2. That the husband paid the purchase price of the house alone and that the respondent went to live with the appellant in the house he was already the legal owner thereof
3. That there was no agreement, specific or otherwise, granting the wife a beneficial interest in the properties in dispute.
Arguments of the Respondent:
1. That there was enough evidence to show that the respondent (wife) contributed financially and otherwise towards the payment of the instalments on the house which the parties considered as their matrimonial home and which is now in dispute as to its ownership.
2. Counsel submitted that the wife maintained the household at the request of the appellant, and contributed to the extension of the house, and that this entitles her to joint ownership.
That the respondent is a joint owner of the house acquired by the appellant.
The court posited that whilst a wife does not acquire any interest by going to live in a matrimonial home which is the sole property of the husband, certain agreements between a wife and a husband in respect of the matrimonial home may give the wife a beneficial interest in the matrimonial home. The wife’s contribution to the extension of the house in dispute, and her use of personal resources she would have otherwise used to acquire her own house for the maintenance of the household at the request of the man inter alia, were evidence that both husband and wife had an agreement that the wife was to have a beneficial interest in equal shares with the husband. In concluding, the court per Abban J.A said “I am of the view that the wife made substantial financial contribution directly and indirectly towards the acquisition of those properties. The wife did so, genuinely believing that she was acquiring a beneficial interest in them and that they were to be a continuing provision for both of them”