Parental rights and responsibilities under the law

Parental responsibility is defined as all the duties, rights, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and the child’s property in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

More than one person may have parental responsibility for the same child at the same time.

Parental  duties include:-

  • To maintain the child and to provide the child with:-
  1. Adequate diet
  2. Shelter
  3. Clothing
  4. Medical care
  5. Education and guidance
  • To protect the child from neglect, discrimination and abuse.

Parental Rights

Parents have rights to their children and these rights include:-

  1. i) Right to give parental guidance in religious, moral, social, cultural and other values.
  2. ii) Right to determine the name of the child.

iii) Right to appoint a guardian in respect of the child.

  1. iv) Right to receive, recover, administer and otherwise deal with the property of the child for the benefit and in the best interests of the child.
  2. v) Right to arrange or restrict the emigration of the child from Kenya.
  3. vi) Right to arrange for the burial or cremation of the child upon the death of the child.

Who has Parental responsibility?

  1. Where a child’s father and mother were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth, they shall have parental responsibility for the child and neither the father nor the mother of the child shall have a superior right or claim against the other in exercise of such parental responsibility.
  2. Where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth and have subsequently married each other, they shall have parental responsibility for the child and neither the father nor the mother of the child shall have a superior right or claim against the other in the exercise of such parental responsibility.
  3. Where a child’s father and mother were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth and have not subsequently married each other:-
  1. The mother shall have parental responsibility at the first instance.
  2. The father can acquire parental responsibility for the child either by:-
  • Making an application to the court.
  • A parental responsibility agreement which is made between the father and mother of the child. A parental responsibility agreement may only be brought to an end by a person who has parental responsibility for the child or the child himself.
  • Implication where the father and mother have cohabited for a period not less than 12 months subsequent to the birth of the child, or the father has acquired paternity of the child or has maintained the child. This is despite the fact that no parental responsibility agreement has been made.

Parental responsibility in respect of a child may be extended by the court beyond the date of the child’s eighteenth birthday if the court is satisfied that special circumstances exist with regard to the welfare of the child.

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