The plight of the father of an out of wedlock child
I pay maintenance yet l am denied other rights over my child, like custody and access among others.
The position of the law in Zimbabwe is why elevate the legal status of an illegitimate father to that of a spouse in a divorce situation?
The rights of access, custody and guardianship of a child born out of wedlock are vested in the mother of the child. The father has no such rights, “the legal position is that in Zimbabwe custody rights in relation to a child born out of wedlock vest in the mother of the child, the father of such child is equated to any third party and as such the custody rights that vest in the mother can only be interfered with if the mother is not exercising such rights properly”.
Muchechetere in Cruth v Manuel expounded that, It therefore follows, in my view, that a father of a child born out of wedlock cannot come to court and simply allege that because he is the father of the child, or he is richer than the mother, or he pays maintenance etc, it is in the interests of the child that the rights of the mother should be interfered with.” The learned judge further expounded that it would be elevating the legal status of an illegitimate father to that of a spouse in a divorce situation and negating the accepted principle of law that he has no inherent right in the child born out of wedlock.”
Does this position help in the child’s development? Is it in the best interests of the child?