One Family calls for implementation of out of court solutions for Child Maintenance issues
Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families’ response to the publication of the Review of the Enforcement of Child Maintenance Orders
Dublin, Monday 8th January 2024: One Family welcomes the Department of Justice’s Review of the Enforcement of Child Maintenance Orders, which addresses long-standing concerns regarding non-payment. This action was prompted by the Government’s decision not to establish a Child Maintenance Agency, despite its recommendation in the Murphy Child Maintenance Review Group report.
Karen Kiernan, One Family CEO, stated, “One Family believes the only adequate response to the need to reform how child maintenance is administered in Ireland is the establishment of an independent child maintenance agency or analogous system. Given that courts instead will need to continue to shoulder the work of maintenance assessment and enforcement; we believe that urgent priority must be given to the development of new Family Law courts with specialist trained judiciary, shorter waiting times and an emphasis on out of court solutions.
“It is of particular concern to us that separated parents will continue to be forced into adversarial legal systems that are often slow and expensive in order to deal with basics such as child maintenance. We see constantly in our services that unpaid maintenance means the family must cut back on essentials, bills cannot be paid, and families can go into arrears or debt.
“Unfortunately, whilst this report recommends some positive changes, it falls short of providing families with an independent, non-adversarial process through which to assess and enforce child maintenance orders.”
We hope that the planned development of guidelines for the Courts in enforcing maintenance orders and attempting to standardise assessments will hear the voices and experiences of parents who have direct experience of child maintenance.
It is encouraging that there will be a wider selection of enforcement tools available to courts for non-payment of court ordered child maintenance, and that the court will determine which one is most suitable in each case. However, the onus is still on the receiving parent to initiate another court case, which we know from their own testimonies can bring about added stress and expenses.
We are pleased that the Family Justice Forum will work together with the Department of the Taoiseach’s Child Poverty Unit to ensure there is a positive impact on child poverty levels. This is an essential aspect that requires thorough monitoring and ensuring compliance with orders.
For more information, visit Review of the Enforcement of Child Maintenance Orders.
Issued on behalf of One Family
Date: 8 January 2024
Note to Editors:
One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s national organisation for one-parent families and people sharing parenting or separating, offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services.
These services include the askonefamily national helpline on 0818 66 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. For further information, visit www.onefamily.ie. The askonefamily helpline can be contacted on 0818 66 22 12 or 01 662 9212 or email@example.com.
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