The law and parental decisions from a single mother’s standpoint

13 Jul, 2019 - 00:07 0 Views
The law and parental decisions from a single mother’s standpoint

The Chronicle

 Bongiwe Nkomazana

Four principal purposes and functions of the law are to establish standards, maintain order, resolve disputes, and protect liberties and rights.

Without it, we would all be acting fools and life would be severely chaotic.

For us to be law abiding citizens, we obviously need to know the rules of our country of which most of us have a basic understanding of.

It is however impossible for us to know each and every law and in its fullest details.

That is why there is a need for that whole legal industry. I will play my part by shedding light or rather opening up the space for conversation around the law which affects the increasing number of single mothers in Zimbabwe. We want to discuss the law and how it affects their parental decisions on a child that they are raising alone.

I know that a child takes their father’s surname and is identified as a part of his clan etc but a child is closer to the mother than the father.

The only reason, as far as

I am concerned, that makes us take up our father’s totems is the fact that a father’s genes are more expressive than a mother’s, thus our biological make up leans more towards the father.

That’s it. This is a beautiful thing if the father then takes up his role as the one with the aggressive genes, to then aggressively provide and protect their offspring.

It becomes an irrelevant thing when the father is just the dominant gene donor that has left the mother to not only carry the “precious cargo” in her womb but to also single-handedly fend for the baby with zero support from him.

The reasons that justify why a child really belongs to their mother are countless. Let us list them just for argument’s sake.

Mothers carry the baby within their body, they deliver them out to the world, they feed them, nurture them, provide for them, stand by them, fight for them, pray for them, sacrifice everything for them and will continue to do so until the day they die.

And they do all of this with a heart full of love, expecting nothing in return but the happiness and wellbeing of their child.

A mother generally will not opt out of parenthood or flee and disappear when the going gets tough like how we see some men do.

Why then should the lives of single mothers and that of their children be constrained by our laws? For example, we all know that travelling to South Africa, for example, with a minor is no joke.

You need the correct documentation including photocopies of the parents’ documents and affidavits. This law is necessary to curb human trafficking and smuggling and kudos to the Government for working tirelessly and strictly to make sure our children are safe. However, the downside of this is that the children, whose fathers are absent, are denied the pleasure to travel outside Zimbabwe. Why should a man who chooses not to be present for his child, go on to be allowd to deny the same child some pleasures?

Single mothers who want to relocate to other countries often meet challenges when they want to go with their children.

There are laws in place that protect the fathers’ rights to see their children despite the father having zero interest in actually seeing their children.

Docile fathers always emerge when single mothers have an opportunity to better the lives of their children and become a stumbling block.

Fortunately the law has many facets and can be approached at different angles to cater for the many different cases that come forward. Being a single mom myself I have particular interest in how mothers in similar positions can manoeuvre around life yet staying within the law and doing the best they can for their children.

The easiest route that many women take is excluding the biological father from the birth certificate completely. That way there will be no need to seek his consent when taking decisions regarding the children.Some mothers are single following a divorce or separation so the children already have birth certificates with their father’s name.

In some cases, single mothers feel strongly that their children should have birth certificates with their fathers surnames to avoid future complications.

In my case I do not want to complicate my son’s life hence he has his father’s surname. I discussed some of the challenges single mothers are facing and my lawyer friend, Connie said some of the challenges can be resolved by the courts.

She said when travelling a single mother can seek a court order to allow her to travel with the child even without the consent of the father.

The Zimbabwe Legal Information Institute states that the courts have generally recognised that the well-being of the child is fundamentally interrelated with the well-being of the custodial parent and that the custodial parent is the best person suited to make decisions affecting the child such as where they would reside and where they would travel to.

This means that once a mom gets the sole custody she can independently make decisions regarding her children’s welfare. Single mothers facing challenges can approach the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association which is more than ready to defend and dialogue exclusively on women and children’s rights.

You are encouraged to share and discuss your views, opinions, experiences and opinions on this issue via Twitter handle @bongi_nkomazana

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