Legal Provisions on Child Support a Kenyan Perspective

Every child has the right to parental care and support. These include the provision of all needs, protection from harm as well as representation in decision-making processes by their parents and or guardians. The guardians are the primary custodians of the minors’ decisions until the age of 18 years. Children’s Act Kenya highlights the responsibility of both parents as of sharing the responsibilities equally regardless of their social economic and political status. The Kenyan constitution 2010 provides guidelines on various rights of the child under chapter 4; from access to basic needs, an education, parental guidance, name, play as well as freedom of expression. The African charter ratified by Kenya also makes provisions on the role of state and non-state actors in the promotion of the children’s wellbeing. With everybody required to act to the best interest of the child. In this case, being financially challenged does not call for any party absconding their primary responsibilities whatsoever.

There have been increased cases of child abuse and teen pregnancies amidst COVID 19, and the blame is shifted to the caregivers. The laxity on parental guidance on sex education has remained a huge gap that has, for a long time, been left to teachers and members of the clergy. Focusing on childcare, many women have shifted the attention of getting money to siring children with rich men in order to exploit them financially. In the recent past, getting married or siring a child with a man has become another form of employment and or source of income for many women.

Financial Support or Exploitation

Globally men earn about 15% more than women (ILO Reports, 2019).  There is also the societal assumption that the man should be the primary breadwinner of the family despite his financial status. Among the emerging issue is women neglecting on their provision role, hiding beneath the societal norms and customs. Most African communities define the aspect of mature manhood as the ability to provide for their families; one thing a “strong African man” cannot do is to seek legal help for child upkeep from his partner. For men who are less conversant with the Children’s Acts and Rights on the responsibility of couples end up suffering the most compared to women.

Additionally, most of the local NGOs like the Federation of Women Lawyers, and Center for Rights Education and Awareness, provide more support to the woman than the man. Women stand a higher chance of getting child support from men than vice versa. In some instances, after getting, the money women end up using it for other reasons instead of supporting their children. On instances where the father is the custodian of the children, women in most cases will offer the lowest or no form of financial support. In some cases, where the woman is married to another man, the biological father of her children might choose not to support them; this is contrary to the legal provision because the situation does not make him a lesser biological father. The lack of clear understanding on co-parenting rights has led to increased cases of femicide; especially when men are obliged to provide child support while their “baby-mamas” engage in other relationships and or married to another man.

Paternal Love Vs Love for Money

For the recent past, many women have been quoted on media and social networks grumbling about how their baby daddies are not providing for their children. This has attracted immense response with some men protesting that women are after their money while they pretend to be offering the best to their children. Men have been quoted saying that women should work for their money instead of beseeching men for their child upkeep. Women are taking advantage of the fathers of their children to reap where they did not sow.

Rise of Dead-Beat Dads and Increased Number of Single Mothers

In as far as, child support is concerned, not all men are responsible while not all are being exploited; some are so cunning and would do anything to avoid any cost put on their shoulders.

Lucy wambui

Despite the existing laws, some men would choose not to provide for their children. In most cases, such men have multiple partners and consequently find it hard to commit to one. In some instances, these men are young fathers who do not feel ready to be parents despite engaging in sexual activities without considering the use of any form of family planning. For the older men, they tend to have sexual relations with younger girls who are financially reliant on their parents; in such circumstances, many girls are being compelled from getting married by their parents until they complete their studies. They end up becoming single mothers at a very tender age and still dependent on their parents. Young mothers have little or no knowledge of existing laws that offer a platform for them to seek child support. The same happens to poor people in rural areas who rarely knows the role of men and women in child upkeep.

 Behavior Change and Shift to Morality

In as much as we shall be talking about respecting the law, there is a need to put more effort into doing what is morally right. There is a need to shape our behaviors to marry with the current trends in social, economic and political situations. People should take responsibility for their action before being compelled. Its only human to consider, recognize and understand our specific roles when it comes to family; most importantly being role models to our children, acting to the best interest of these children as well as focus on the future generations. There is also a dire need for men and women to understand that children should not suffer because of their differences. These children are victims of circumstances. They should never be dragged in between or used as weapons of war for individuals’ financial gains.

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