Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said that the Board will bring civil action against fathers who fail to take care of their children or renege on what they have signed up to as a result of settlement reached at the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ‘We are talking of fathers who have agreed to pay maintenance but fail to follow through on this agreement based on trust.’ she said. ‘Also, there are those who refuse our invitation to ADR on the grounds that we do not have such powers. A police officer, Musa Moinina of Ross Road Police Station did just that recently and we had no alternative but to drag him to court. You are not only breaking the law, you are also destroying the future of your children.’
She added that husbands also have a duty to take care of their wives until they are divorced.
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles said that the Legal Aid Board offices around the country are swamped by women complaining about their partners who are not taking care of their children. ‘Every child is entitled to food, clothing, shelter and education,’ she said. ‘Some men have given the lame excuse that they cannot take care of their children because they are unemployed even though the women have been doing just that without a job.’
She stressed that fathers have a responsibility to take care of their children even if they are above eighteen years. She added in the case of those above eighteen, they should continue to take care of them as long as they are enrolled in an educational institutional.
‘Some fathers have taken upon themselves not to take care of their children because according to them they are not obliged by law to do so,’ she said. ‘Our experience with such fathers is that most have never taken care of their children in the first place surrendering that responsibility to the mothers.’
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also warned against domestic violence noting that those who commit such offence are not a priority to the Board in terms of providing them with a lawyer. ‘With only sixteen lawyers, it is very unlikely those who commit domestic violence will benefit from the scheme by way of representation in court,’ she warned.