One of the first things that I had to do after working on the legal separation document (see in legal quagmire section) was to start my claim for Child Support.

If I hadn’t claimed child support, I don’t know how I would have managed to meet her needs. I realized just how much raising a child is a responsibility of both parents, with the costs going a lot into finances. Claiming child support made sure that our daughter was looked after by both parents and we were accountable to the courts.  

The Kenyan Law On Child Support  

Child support requires that you as the parent, guardian or custodian of a child apply to the Children’ Court to determine any matter relating to the maintenance of the child. This is part of the Children’s Rights. You as the custodial parent or guardian can make an order to prompt a specified person- often the father of the child, to make payment for the maintenance of your child. 

The court has the power to make a maintenance order, whether or not the child’s parent has filed for divorce or separation.

 The court may require stepparents to provide financially. However, the courts shall consider the following circumstances:-

  • The income or earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the parties.
  • The financial needs, obligations, or responsibilities which each party has or is likely to have.
  • The financial needs of the child and the child’s current circumstances.
  • The income or earning capacity, if any, property and other financial resources of the child.
  • Any physical or mental disabilities, illness or medical condition of the child.
  • The child’s education or training.
  • The circumstances of any of the child’s siblings.

The Purpose of Child Support

The main purpose of child support is to protect the child from the impact of their parent’s separation or divorce. It ensures that a child’s standard of living remains relatively the same after their parents separate or divorce.

The money can be used to pay for necessities like:

  • Shelter, including the rent and utilities of the child’s primary home to ensure they’re living in a safe environment.
  • Food, clothing, books, and furnishings that the child will use.
  • Medical expenses including doctor’s visits, medications, spectacles, dental care and medical insurance.
  • School expenses, including books, supplies, clothing, and other associated costs like field trips.
  • Extracurricular activity expenses and similar activities the child is involved in.

There are guidelines that are used to establish how much support the non-custodial parent (the parent that lives away from the children) will be paying. If you’re working, both your incomes will be used to determine how much money you will be awarded, taking into consideration all the children of the marriage. Generally, this support continues until the child turns 18 years old and leaves high school.

Child Support Compliance.

If the non-custodial parent fails to pay the monthly child support, he has violated a court order. You can go back to the Children’s Court and file for violation or enforce the order.

Remember a child support agreement made outside of court with the non-custodial parent, is not enforceable in court at all. If you want child support in an enforceable way, then you have to go through the courts in the first place, by claiming child support legally. 

Child Support and Visitation Rights

Filing for child support opens the door to regular parent-child visitation since you are officially acknowledging paternity as part of the process, which is a very good thing. Even if your ex was a very poor husband he may have been a good father.  

And remember, visitation and child support are separate issues in the eyes of the court. So just because you’re filing for child support, that doesn’t mean your ex will definitely be awarded visitation, dependant on a number of things for e.g. violence or any other kind of abuse.

Claim Your Child Support! It’s Your Children’s Rights

I’d urge you if you qualify for child support, to claim it. It’s part of the Children’s Rights. If you are the custodial parent it’s your responsibility to claim it for your children.

The child support payments I received monthly for our daughter from my former husband, made a very big difference in my ability to care for our daughter. It was still tough, but the payments made a very in keeping us off the streets. 

I have met many women who again do not claim child support for their children, yet they qualify and are living on the line of poverty. It’s not doing yourself or your children any favours. If anything you’re actually depriving them of their rights.

Whether you claim or not, is not dependant on your relationship with your former husband, it’s part of your responsibility as the custodial parent. Again, do right by your children.

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