By Raisa Okwaras
The High Court of Kenya has revealed that men can now have custody over children under 9 years of age.
This came to light after a ruling on Thursday, March 31, 2022, where a Nakuru-based man was granted custody over his 2 children aged eight and fifteen.
The landmark ruling held that the legal custody of those two minors will get shared between the parents. However, Alex Njuguna Kagwe, who is their father, will possess full custody of the children. On the other hand, Sylvia Mueni Musyoka, their mother, was denied the right to the same, which is uncommon in the local ruling.
According to the court details, their mother had gone to court to dispute the ruling on November 3, 2021, that granted their father full custody of the children.
Sylvia disputed the same, arguing that she needs to have primary custody since she is the biological mother to their children who were below the age of legality.
However, the court documents revealed that after relocating from the United States, the children had exclusively lived with the father for 6 years and 4 years respectively.
Sylvia had returned to Kenya to renew the children’s passports. This would enable her to move them back to the US, oceans apart from the parent they had been living with for the past 6 and 4 years respectively.
Unbeknownst to her, the court was to rule in favor of her ex-husband.
“The period in question is more than 6 years for SCKK and more than 4 years for JWKK. Their being with the father was not a product of subterfuge, conspiracy, or abduction. It was by the mutual agreement of the parties. During that period, the two children have been enrolled in schools in Kenya,” read part of the High Court ruling.
The ruling also held that yanking the children from the life and person they are accustomed to would lead to psychological trauma on their part. Also, giving the mother the right of custody would make it harder for the father to see the children as he does not have permanent US residence.
This ruling has come as a shock to many as they are accustomed to the mother having full child custody as long as the children are below 18 years old. However, the new rule allows for courts to look at such custody issues on a case-to-case basis rather than on a subjective and general basis.
Going forward, fathers are eligible for full custody of children under the age of 9.