Equal Childcare Responsibility For Men in New Bill

The Parliament Building in Nairobi.
The Parliament Building in Nairobi.

Members of Parliament have backed a Bill, seeking to review sharing of parental responsibilities between men and women.

The Children (Amendment) Bill of 2020, presented by Homa Bay Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Kaluma, will allow men to have equal responsibility with women in the custody and upkeep of their children.

The proposed Bill was backed and a report presented before the House, by the National Assembly's Committee on Labour and Social Welfare led by the committee chair, Mwea MP, Kabinga Wachira.

"The Bill seeks to vest equal responsibility for parental care and protection of a child in both the mother and the father whether they are married to each other or not," stated the committee's report.

Homa Bay Town MP George Kaluma
Homa Bay Town MP George Kaluma.

The Bill seeks to amend section 24 of the Children Act of 2001, ending child upkeep disputes for parents who end up in divorce.

The Children Act of 2001 places full parental care on women in cases where parents are separated, sidelining men in the equal participation of parental care.

The 2001 Bill stipulates that for parents who have been divorced, the man can only have parental responsibility through a court order.

The 50-50 sharing of parental responsibility for parents will mean that neither the man nor the woman has superior responsibility for the parental care of a child, with women previously having the superior claim of a child over men.

"Neither the father nor the mother shall have a superior right or claim against the other in the exercise of such parental responsibilities," read the Bill.

The Bill also provides that in a situation where a DNA test reveals that a child does not belong to one of the parents, the parent may cease parental responsibility to the child.

In the case where the parents divorce, the Bill also provides that a divorce agreement or maintenance order from a court be given to stipulate the cash amount to be paid to the parent who has the primary care of the child.

Child upkeep disputes have been on the rise, with the Judiciary revealing that over 1500 cases have been filed since 2019.

Lawmakers seated in Parliament
Lawmakers seated in Parliament.
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