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Administration of Estate

Devolution of Estate Act 2007

The Act deals with the distribution of property when someone dies without leaving a WILL and in certain instances when a person does leave a WILL.

It applies to all persons across the country regardless of their religion or personal law.

A Will means a written declaration signed and witnessed showing how the property of the person making it should be distributed in accordance with the law.

A Will only comes into effect after the death of the person who writes it and it can be cancelled at any time by the person who writes it before his death.

A Letter of Administration means a letter issued to somebody by the court, normally a next of kin, granting him/her authority to share the property to those who are entitled when there is no Will.

Next of Kin means a person nearest or closest to the person who dies. It can be the child, wife, husband, brother or even the parent.

Who is a Testate?

A person who before his/her death left a legally valid last Will and Testament, showing how his/her property should be distributed

Who is an Intestate?

A person who before his/her death does not leave a legally valid Will and Testament

Who is recognized as a child of Intestate?

  • Any child born to the deceased while the deceased was unmarried and recognized by the deceased as his child;
  • Any child born to the deceased while the deceased was married and the other parent of the child was or is the lawful spouse of the deceased;
  • Any child born to the deceased while the deceased was married and the child in question was recognized by the deceased and his spouse as the child of the deceased;
  • Any child adopted by the deceased under any applicable law.


Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act 2007

This Act deals with the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce, the validity of the customary marriage, the relationship between customary marriage and marriage by Christian, Muslim, or Civil rites, a customary marriage of minors, cohabiting persons to deemed married, etc.

One of the major purposes of the Act is to register customary marriages, as women in customary marriages often have difficulty proving they are married because they have no certificate to prove it.

What law applies if someone marries with several rites?

In a situation where a couple has entered into a Customary marriage and then later holds a Christian, Muslim, or Civil marriage ceremony, the Customary marriage shall be deemed to be dissolved by the second marriage.

If a couple celebrates marriages under several rites at once the couple needs to expressly state which type of marriage it is to be.

According to the Act “No person already married under the Christian Marriage Act, the Muslim Marriage Act or the Civil Marriage Act shall enter a customary marriage with another person.

(2) Where spouses have simultaneously celebrated their marriage both by Christian, Muslim or civil rites and by customary rites, the consequences of such marriage shall be determined according to the law which the spouses have expressly agreed should apply.

  1. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who enters a customary marriage (whether it is potentially or actually polygamous) shall not subsequently marry any other person by Christian, Muslim or civil rites during the existence of the customary marriage.

(2) A person may enter a Christian, Muslim or civil marriage after a customary marriage if it is with the same person with whom he entered the customary marriage and the customary marriage shall be deemed to have been dissolved after such Christian, Muslim or civil marriage.”

Status of Cohabiting couples for more than Five Years

The Act states that “Where the personal law of co-habiting persons is customary law and the persons-

(a) are not below eighteen years; and

(b) have lived together as husband and wife for a continuous period of not less than five years,

they shall be deemed to be married under customary law notwithstanding that they may not have performed any customary rites of marriage.”

That is to say, if the personal law of the man and woman living together without going through a marriage ceremony is customary law and the persons are not below 18 years and have lived together as husband and wife for a continuous period of Not Less Than Five Years, they shall be deemed to be married under the Customary law despite the fact that they have not performed any Customary marriage rites.

Domestic Violence

The Domestic Violence Act 2007

The Act deals with violence in the home, the different types of domestic violence, how to prevent them, and how to provide protection for victims of these types of violence.

  • Domestic Relationship: Is defined as a social unit consisting of parents and their children; or a group of people related by ancestry or marriage or all the people living in the same house. For it to be considered as a domestic relationship, the undermentioned must have existed or must have been existing between the complainant and the offender:
  • A married couple;
  • Cohabiting partners, people living together but not married;
  • People living in the same compound;
  • Housemaid or houseboy in offender’s household;
  • Persons living in care institutions, daycare, orphanages, and schools
  • Domestic Violence: Domestic violence means any of the following acts or threats of any such:
  • Physical or sexual abuse;
  • Economic abuse;
  • Emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse including any conduct that makes another person feels constantly unhappy, humiliated, ridiculed, afraid or depressed or feel inadequate or worthless;
  • Harassment, including sexual harassment and intimidation;
  • Conduct that in any way harms or may harm another person, including any omission that results in harm and either
  • Endangers the safety, health, or wellbeing of another person;
  • Undermines another person’s privacy, integrity, or security; or
  • Detracts or is likely to detract from another person’s dignity or worth as a human being.

Protection Orders: Are orders from the court prohibiting a respondent from committing or threatening to commit an act of domestic violence. The would-be victim can apply to the court to ask for a protection order to prohibit the perpetrator from committing any act of domestic violence.