Child Support in Kenya: Where a couple with a child separates, the burden of child financial support often falls on the man. But this is now set to change going by a landmark ruling that was delivered by Justice Abida Ali Aroni.
According to the ruling, both parents will now share the burden of raising their children equally after a divorce.
This effectively makes both parents responsible for their child(ren) without either being compelled to single handedly bear the burden of child support.
Justice Abida Ali Aroni, ruled that separated couples should carry out parental responsibilities of their children jointly, and in particular shoulder financial expenses together.
“Where a child’s father and mother were married to each other at the time of his birth, they shall have parental responsibility for the child and neither the father nor the mother of the child shall have a superior right or claim against the other in exercise of such parental responsibility.” Justice Aroni said quoting Section 24 of the Children Act.
In the Act, parental responsibility encompasses all the rights, duties, powers, authority and responsibility that a parent has by law.
Justice Aroni was ruling on an appeal by a man challenging a decision by a Magistrate Court demanding that he takes up financial responsibility of his three-year-old son, a task that he deemed overburdening saying the amounts were excessive and beyond his means.
The man had been directed to pay Sh. 97, 000 as school fees and Sh. 20, 000 monthly upkeep for the kid. The mother, the lower court ruled, was to offer shelter, clothing and pay the nanny.
However, Justice Aroni noted that both parents are employed and have income and therefore needed to share the responsibilities equally.
“Both parties are in salaried employment and earn substantial income so that none of them should be hard-pressed to take up a higher responsibility than the other. Both should realize that it is not the same since their divorce and they should as of necessity build consensus on which school they will both be comfortable to pay.”
Suspending the magistrate’s decision and varying the orders issued, Justice Aroni directed the man and his wife to equally share school fees and school-related costs for the minor until further orders of the court.
The judge also reduced the man’s monthly maintenance duty for the child to Sh. 10,000, which will cover the costs of food and clothing for the minor pending the hearing and determination of the appeal. Each will also continue to run a health insurance cover for the minor.Child Support in Kenya.
Additional reporting adapted from The Standard / Daily Nation.