I'm 25 years old and a single parent. Must I include my child's father's name on his birth certificate? What are the legal repercussions of not doing so?
You speak for the many single parents out there who have similar struggles. Thank You. Your question brings to the fore a number of legal issues including: i) Rights of children; ii) Registration of their birth; iii) Circumstances under which the name of the biological father may be inserted; and, iv) implications of such registration or lack thereof.
From the onset, the Constitution and the Children Act have set out various rights of children including but not limited to: right to name and nationality from birth, right to parental protection which includes equal responsibility of the mother and the father whether they are married to each other or not.
Registration of birth has in the recent past being the subject of two landmark cases owing to provision of section 12 of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, which provides for consent of the father before inclusion of his name into the certificate.
While the Act predates the 2010 Constitution by eighty decades and section 12 has been declared unconstitutional, appropriate amendments to bring the Act to conformity with the Constitution are yet to be effected.
However, and as matter of principle, all births must be registered. Accordingly, parental responsibility begins with both parents serving notice of birth to the registrar in the prescribed manner. This means entering the names of both the father and the mother their marital status notwithstanding.
One may ask the importance of a father’s name in the birth certificate. First, such inclusion gives a child a name and identity considering Kenya is a patriarchal society. Secondly, the burden imposed on women is lessened and it is possible for men to take up their responsibilities with respect to children sired outside marriage.
Third and most importantly, litigation burden placed on children during succession to prove father/ child relationship is lessened. On the flipside, entry of the name of the father may not necessarily mean that the child will get care and attention that it ought to get from the father.
However, and at the very least, it will give the child an identity, the knowledge that though the father does not support or care for it, it does have a father and not a series of xxxx in its birth certificate.
Therefore, to answer your question, take the shortest route to the registrar of birth and death and have the name your child’s father entered into the birth certificate.
Eric Mukoya is the Executive Director, Legal Resources Foundation Trust. Do you have a legal problem you would like addressed by a lawyer? Please email your queries to [email protected]