Thika MP to draft Child Support Bill to tame deadbeat fathers, mothers.

Thika Town MP Eng. Patrick Wainaina is preparing a bill to be tabled in the National Assembly that will compel both parents to cater for the needs of the children they bear regardless of whether they live together or not.

According to the legislator, the current laws are somehow ambiguous to the detriment of the welfare of the child which has resulted to an increase in poverty levels and consequent influx of commercial sex workers, street families and petty criminals.

“Our country has been littered with so many street children, drug addicts, commercial sex workers and petty criminals who at most find themselves in their positions out of poverty. Sometimes this poverty is artificial because someone absconded their duties as parents. We must address this problem if we really want to tackle the problem of insecurity,” says Wainaina.

The MP plans to peg a certain percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income into child support. This means that fathers who willingly dodge responsibility after becoming aware of the child’s conception shall be ordered to pay for their support by law.

“The goal is to place the child in the position they would have been had the parents stayed together. With this law, both parents will be legally obligated to contribute to the financial support of a child even if the child is living with only one parent. The non-custodial parent will at least have to pay part of the child's food, clothing, childcare, housing and education,” he explains.

Wainaina reckons that when the laws are fair and child support calculations are feasible, there is no reason for any man or woman not to take up their responsibilities as parents.

Over the years, a father was typically assumed to be the breadwinner and thus responsible for much of a child's support.

Checks and balances.

The news about this bill was generally received so well by the residents especially women who argued that it was long overdue.

Most of them said that this will help tame the high rates of unwanted pregnancies especially among the youth and school going girls.

However, there were those who felt this law could be abused by some mischievous and ‘money hungry’ women. This school of thought called on the architects of this law to set realistic child support amounts so that non-custodial parents didn't accumulate debt they can't afford, forcing them to get stuck in a cycle of incarceration that can plague people in poverty. 

“Let’s not forget that there are women out there who hunt men like prey. These women manipulate men to impregnate them and immediately abandon these men, all the while screaming that the men have ‘abandoned the child’. If we are not careful, these greedy mothers will simply take advantage of men and enslave us,” said Paco Waiganjo who is a resident of Ngoingwa.

He argued that these greedy mothers understand that if the general public is led to believe in the illusion that the man in question wants nothing to do with their kid, and doesn't want to pay for child support out of spite, nobody will bother to listen to him since the mere illusion of the deadbeat dad is so powerful.

“The typical citizen conjures up the image of ‘an innocent child being abandoned by the father’ and that citizen's heart turns cold against the apparently delusional deadbeat father,” said Paco.

Joe Maina, a mechanic near U-Shop argued that pegging child support on one’s income will end up forcing some men to pay insanely high amounts especially if the father is wealthy. He also argued that some ‘loose’ women will also end up collecting child support from multiple fathers.

“This is Kenya my fren. When you include financial incentives to have babies, the rate at which some women will irresponsibly become pregnant will drastically skyrocket. Women, who have children out-of-wedlock should only be allowed to collect child support for one child at a time regardless of the number of fathers, unless the father of the 2nd born child willingly pays,” he said.

Special Account.

He said that child support money should be placed into a special account to be used only to purchase the basic needs of the child, such as; food, children's clothing, utility bills, school fees and medical expenses and not to be left open at the liberty of the woman.

“These children almost never benefit from this money because, in the first place, they are merely used as leverage for extortion and control,” argued Maina.

Maina added that in an event the mother got married to another man and the combined income of the custodial parent (mother) and her new spouse meet or exceed an amount which sufficiently cares for the child, then the non-custodial child support payments should be paid into a TRUST FUND for the child. The fund can be accessed by the child at the age of 18 and used as they see fit.

Female options.

Aidan Githinji Njoroge, a practicing accountant in Thika, was particularly maddened about the numerous options the women had when it came to options to conceive or not to.

“Women have the right to contraception, morning-after pill or adoption of the child if one decides she doesn't want to be a mother. Why should the man be forced to finance her decision, regardless of his unwillingness to be a parent? It should be remembered that consent to sex is not consent to parenting. Biology is not destiny,” said Githinji. 

Githinji also reckoned that there was need for the woman to inform a man, in good time, that he is to be a father.

“There is no excuse, with all the preventative and post measures that women have to irresponsibly bring a new child into the world when the financial means are absent to do so. Any mother who purposefully withholds that she is pregnant and is caught ‘sandbagging’ a child for future income and retroactive child support is a clear perpetrator of fraud and should be punished by law,” he quipped. 

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