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January 24, 2019

Handling Kids Fathered By Married Men Out Of Wedlock

A reader sent me the following situation. I have decided to answer the questions openly since I feel that her issue is a reflection of what many single mothers are be grappling with in silence.

I had a relationship with a married man and I thought we loved each other. We were blessed with a baby girl who is now three and a half years old. Since the child was born the father has made countable visits to see her. It is now two years since he last saw her.

The child recently asked me why she doesn’t have a daddy. I knew this was coming but not so soon. I told her she has a daddy and told her his name, but I lied that he works far from home but will come some day, this is as I try to figure out a suitable answer. My questions are:

1) What’s the appropriate answer if one is caught in such a situation?

2) She can point at some body and say that’s her daddy, at times she calls my brother daddy. This can be so embarrassing.

3) The father's name does not appear in her birth certificate can one apply through the court that the father recognises her even by registration?

The child has a father. The child enjoys legal recognition under the Children Act as well as under the Constitution of Kenya. It no longer matters whether the child was born out of wedlock or not.

The Children's Act has been amended by a judgment of the Constitutional and Human Rights Court to delete the Sections 23(4) and 25 since these provisions discriminated against children born out of wedlock in ZAK VS MA petition no. 193 of 2013.

The child has a right to a name. You cannot compel a father to visit his child. You should disclose the truth to the child and move on. Cheating the child is not a solution.

Soon or later the child will find out the truth. Once this happens, then the child will no longer trust you. You shouldn’t worry much when the child calls your brother daddy. She will live out of that. The child is simply seeking a father figure.

You can however get orders of the court to compel him to maintain the child. Unfortunately inserting the name of the child’s father in his birth certificate without his consent is a crime.

I however believe with the aforementioned judgment, the provision that penalises mothers for inserting the names of the father in the name of a child born out of wedlock should be done away with in the spirit of gender equality. Section 6 of Schedule 7 to the Constitution should come to the aid of such.

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