Reprieve for men as parliament committee proposes equal compulsory child upkeep

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 19 Aug, 2021 10:24 | 2 mins read
Homa Bay Town MP George Kaluma proposed the upkeep bill: PHOTO/COURTESY

Members of parliament have backed proposals made to the Child Welfare law that will allow and make it compulsory for parents, married or not, to equally share the upkeep costs of children sired together.

The move by the National Assembly committee on Labour and Social Welfare could be a positive win for men who have allegedly been disadvantaged by the current law in the event of separation or divorce.

The committee approved the Children (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which positions equal parental responsibility for children, including those born out of wedlock or whose parents have divorced.

According to the committee, the bill seeks to amend Section 24 of the Children Act of 2001 and include it in the constitution, ending a long disadvantaged law that has seen child upkeep disputes left to the court’s interpretation.

Currently, the law places all parental responsibility on the child’s mother, leaving out the biological father out of the equation in instances where they are not married.

The act only allows the biological father to go through a court process to be handed a court order or an outside agreement with the mother.

However, the amendment will obliterate the current act and place full responsibility of the sired child on an equal platform.

“The bill will vest equal responsibility for parental care and protection of a child in both the mother and father whether they are married to each other or not,” a report by the committee said

The bill which was sponsored by Homa Bay Town MP George Kaluma a move aimed at reducing child custody disputes which have been on the rise in the country lately.

Article 53(1)(e) of the constitution states that: “Every parent has the right to protection, which includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the child, whether they are married to each other or not”

“Nor the father nor the mother shall have a superior right or claim against the other in the exercise of such parental responsibility,” the bill says.

Nairobi County has recorded 1,022 cases on children upkeep and maintenance and the backing of the bill comes at a time courts have seen the rise in number of child upkeep related cases.

Approval by the House is expected to be welcomed by most men who have been subjected to pay for the upkeep of their children, forcing them to follow the tedious court process to be with their children.

The committee’s proposal will await the necessary approval by the House.