In what is likely to be a precedent-setting decision, a High Court in Mombasa has ordered that a man be paid Sh700,000 as damages after he found out that he was not the biological father of a child he raised with his former wife.
The sum is compensation for mental anguish, stress and embarrassment after a paternity test revealed that the minor was not his.
The cash award is also supposed to cater for Sh300,000 that the man, referred to in court documents as Mr SVK, spent taking care of the child’s mother during pregnancy and for hospital delivery costs.
The Sh700,000 sum awarded will be paid by the child’s actual biological father, referred to in court documents as Mr NTA.
In the decision delivered on Wednesday, Justice Eric Ogola described Mr SVK as an honourable man who took his wife, Ms RNL, to give birth in a good hospital and paid the bills. Soon after, however, she decided to go back to her father’s home, from where she delivered the devastating news to him that he was not the father of the child.
“For all his troubles, the first respondent (Mr SVK) is entitled to compensation for the expenses he incurred in caring for the mother and the baby,” the Judge said.
The court noted that although Mr SVK had not quantified the damages he suffered, he took care of both mother and child and paid delivery costs.
It also noted that the proceedings have caused him anguish and that he will continue to suffer mental agony, thus he is entitled to compensation.
Mr SVK had filed a cross-petition against a suit filed by Mr NTA, the biological father who sought to have the child’s birth certificate rectified and read his name (NTA) instead of Mr SVK.
In his cross-petition, Mr SVK had told the court that he was the husband of Ms RNL and were living together as husband and wife when out of their co-habitation, a baby girl was born in October 2015.
He told the court that he had cleared the hospital bills and bought the minor clothes, as well as all necessary items required for a newborn child leaving hospital.
Mr SVK said the baby girl was his pride and joy as a father and since he comes from the Giriama community, he proudly named the child after his mother.
However, the court heard that his pride and joy soon turned into embarrassment and disappointment when his wife called him on September 2016, while staying at her parents’ home, and informed him that he was in fact not the biological father of the child.
Mr SVK refused to believe the news and demanded a paternity test.
The court heard that after blood samples were taken to South Africa for testing, results confirmed that he was not the biological father of the child.
He stated that Mr NTA, unknown to him, had a sexual relationship with his wife even though he knew that they were married.
Mr SVK told the court that NTA and RNL have now become man and wife.
On his part, Mr NTA said he was in a relationship with Ms RNL but cut it short when she married Mr SVK and they were blessed with a child.
He says he was not aware that the child was his until later.
After the paternity of the child was revealed, Mr NTA moved to assert his rights as the father and to have the minor’s middle name changed.
The court allowed the petition and ordered the Registrar of Births and Deaths in Mombasa to have the minor’s birth certificate rectified to read Mr NTA as the father instead of Mr SVK.
The court has ordered Mr NTA to pay the costs of the case.
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