Navigating co-parenting can be insanely difficult especially if the relationship between the parents is acrimonious. This can be a hindrance to meeting the needs of the child. This is why a Parental Responsibility Agreement (PRA) is critical for co-parents who are not married. This is an agreement between persons who share the parental responsibility of a child. It clearly defines the rights, powers, and responsibilities the parents have regarding the children leading to a more amicable arrangement. Here’s why it’s important to make one and what goes into it.
Why the Parental Responsibility Agreement (PRA) matters
According to Article 53 (e) of the Constitution of Kenya, every child has the right to parental care and protection which includes equal responsibility of the mother and father to provide for the child, whether they are married to each other or not. If the parents are not together, especially after a contentious break-up, it can be difficult to agree on how to parent together. This is why it’s important to demarcate what each parent should contribute towards the care and protection of the child and what they can expect from their partner in return. Once this is settled, you don’t have to keep fighting over things and the court acts when anyone is in breach of the deal.
The PRA in general covers:
- Parties to the agreement: the parents and the children covered in the agreement
- Custody of the child: the custody arrangement the parents have in place
- Maintenance of the child: the contributions made by each parent towards the maintenance of the child
- The agreement specifies among others:
- A visitation schedule
- The contact information of the parents
- How the child or children will spend time with each parent
- How you will split the cost of maintenance or who bears responsibility for what e.g. who pays the school fees or the rent
- How the parents will make joint decisions about their respective responsibilities e.g. key decisions like religious upbringing
- How decisions related to the child’s education will be made
- Holiday and school break schedule
- Who bears the responsibility for health insurance and healthcare services or how do you split them?
- The joint responsibilities and expense for extracurricular activities of the child
- The need for notification of parental involvement in cases where either or both parents relocate or change residence
- Issues relating to transport and travel within and outside the country, which is especially important where one parent does not reside in the country
Enforcing and terminating the Parental Responsibility Agreement (PRA)
Parents can work on the PRA independently based on templates available online or presented by lawyers. Once they’ve come to an agreement on all the components, parents have to get it registered and adopted in court as an order of the court. This makes it legally binding, complete with consequences for breaking the agreement. For example, if the document specifies how you handle visitation, including time and place of pick-up and duration, and then the other parent exceeds the agreed duration agreed upon, the court deals with them instead of having another endless fight that has no consequences.
Once the court adopts the PRA, it can only be brought to an end by a court order. If one parent dies, parental responsibility is transmitted to either the living parent alone or together with a testamentary guardian. A testamentary guardian is a person appointed by the will of the deceased parent. In the event that both parents die, parental responsibility is transferred to the testamentary guardian. If there is no testamentary guardian then parental responsibility can pass to a guardian appointed by the court or a relative who is fit to take care of the child.
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