Mother-in-law dragged to court over custody of children

A 51-year-old woman in Lusaka has been dragged to court by her daughter-in-law demanding the custody of her children.

This is in a case in which Lillian Phiri, 29, of Zanimuone compound has sued her mother-in-law, Mary Phiri, 51.

Lillian told Senior Court Magistrate Daniel Phiri sitting with Magistrates Ackim Phiri and Ng’andu Mukuka at Kanyama Local Court that Phiri is the mother of her husband who died on March 29, 2014.

She explained that on January 20, 2015 during elections Phiri asked her if she could spend time with her four grand-children.

Lillian explained that Phiri got three of the children but after elections she refused to take back the children.

She said Phiri had been pestering her over the papers for the house.

In cross-examination, Lillian denied being caught with a married man in the house.

Asked by the court how long the children stayed at their grand-mother, Lillian said for three weeks.

Lillian’s elder sister, Sarah Phiri, 36, said she escorted her sister to get the children from Phiri but she refused to give them back.

Sarah said when she and her younger sister took the writ of summons, they were called prostitutes.

In her defence, Phiri said that Lillian is her daughter-in-law because she was married to her son who died on March 29, 2014.

She explained that she got the children because Lillian was caught in the house with the married man at around 05:00 hours.

Phiri said she took the children to safety because windows were broken by the wife of  the man she was found with.

She said that Lillian went to Kanyama compound and only resurfaced after three days and that she refused to give her the children because she ran away from home.

Asked by the court if she can give Lillian the children, Phiri said that she cannot give her because they are going to be ruined by her behaviour, adding that they are learning at a private school.

In submission, Lillian said that she wanted to be given custody of her children and that they should choose an administrator for the house. Phiri said Lillian could get the children but she was worried of school because she ran to Kanyama compound.

Passing judgment, Magistrate Daniel Phiri said the law stated that the surviving spouse should remain with children.

He granted Lillian the custody of  the children but Phiri was given 100 percent access to the children.

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