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Govt establishes child support fund

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Govt establishes child support fund

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Government has announced plans to establish a temporary child support assistance fund.
News of this came this evening from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler during his delivery of the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposal.
Sinckler said this very troubling issue of the non-payment of child support by delinquent parents has attracted much public attention.
“This situation has reached a particularly unsettling stage where on a weekly basis several parents who have ventured into the various Magistrates’ Courts to collect payments have had to leave empty-handed as these payments have not been made and Court Marshalls have been unable to locate the delinquent parent. The downside of this is that several of the nation’s children are then left to struggle without basic amenities and supplies necessary for a meaningful existence,” he said.
He said the persistence of this problem is causing major social dislocation among a particularly vulnerable segment of the country’s population.
“We are satisfied that this matter has reached such an unhealthy state that lack of intervention by Government at this stage will lead to the emergence of a dangerous set of circumstances that will work to undermine the household fabric of the society,” he added.
Sinckler said the fund would help parents carry some of the load of maintenance while the state aggressively pursues the delinquent parents to recover the amounts owed.
He said $400 000 would be allocated to a Vote to establish a Fund that would assist with the provision of child support payments which have been delayed, under the Maintenance Act, Cap. 216, and that this cap be reviewed in accordance with changes in economic and social conditions.
“The administration of this fund would be done in consultation with the Magistrates’ Courts which currently process child support payments under the Maintenance Act, Cap. 216. Applicants would be entitled to apply for payment from this Maintenance Fund within one month of defaulting parents not adhering to the Court Order to pay child support.
“Until a comprehensive study is conducted for each child in the system, the amount that each child may receive in a week shall not exceed $50.00 unless in extenuating circumstances where an assessment is made by a Social Worker.” (CM)