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Court grants man custody of one-year-old son in historic ruling

In a historic judgment, courts in Kenya and the United States of America (USA) have allowed a man custody of his son aged one year and ten months.

The two courts ruled that one Engineer Imani Manyara, who has dual citizenship, shall have sole physical custody of the minor.

Mr Manyara obtained the custodial rights of his son after the two courts heard and determined the martial row with his estranged wife, who is a medical practitioner in Texas, USA.

While seeking custodial orders, Mr Manyara, a resident of Wake County North Carolina, accused his wife of being cruel to their son.

He further claimed his wife has a mental challenge and cannot be entrusted with the custody of the young boy.

“I believe that the defendant (his former wife) is not mentally stable and therefore unfit to take care of the minor’s interests,” Mr Manyara told Nairobi Children’s Court Magistrate Maureen Wanjiru Kibe.

Detailing the extent of cruelty, the father of the boy told the court that his wife was not fit to upbring the minor since she used to inflict physical injuries on him.

“The defendant has never been a loving and responsible parent to the minor. She, on several occasions, left the minor unattended to for hours, locking him up in a separate room, physically disciplining him despite the minor’s tender age, and even destroying the minor’s clothes and her clothes as well,” Mr Manyara stated in his pleadings filed in court.

According to the complainant, his relationship with his estranged wife went sour when the child was barely six months old.

In a bid to resolve their differences, the couple who were living in Wake County, North Carolina flew back to Kenya on January 1, 2023, to meet their families to seek reconciliation.

During the two weeks’ vacation in Kenya, Mr Manyara claims the minor was whisked away by his wife to an undisclosed location within Kenya, and since then, he has been denied access.

“Efforts to reconcile me and her were made but have completely failed. It also happens that her family, during one of the meetings to reconcile us, confessed that the trip to Kenya was only used to separate me from the minor,” Mr Manyara told the court.

He adds that he was frustrated by his wife and her family members compelling him to fly back to North Carolina to seek legal redress for his son.

“It was upon contacting authorities for assistance to locate the minor in the United States upon suspecting that my wife might have travelled back with the minor to the US that I was informed that she went back to the US without the minor and that she had relocated to Texas,” Mr Manyara states.

After further investigations, he established through his family that his son resides in Kenya with the grandmother of his estranged wife.

“I reiterate that she (estranged wife) and her family have completely denied me and my family access to my son which act violates both the child and my rights. They have shown extreme hostility against me which hostility I believe is also being extended to the child,” the court heard.

Both the Milimani Magistrate Court and Justice James Bedford of Wake County, North Carolina allowed Mr Manyara to keep the child.

Justice Bedford in his ruling category, states that the father can be entrusted with the custody of the minor who had been left in Kenya under the care of a grandmother whom the court doubt had the best interests of the child.

In America, the judge also allowed the mother to see her son for 30 minutes only due to her mental status and should give a day’s notice for arrangements to be made for her visit.

The parties are granted temporary joint legal custody of the child.

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