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Lord Mackay's Proposed Amendement for Child Maintenance Charges is Unworkable

NEARLY HALF OF PARENTS PAYING MAINTENANCE THROUGH THE CSA ARE UNEMPLOYED; PLACING ALL CHARGES ON THESE PARENTS WOULD RESULT IN CYCLES OF DEBT AND ARREARS THAT WOULD PREVENT THEM FROM BEING ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN

 

Figures released this morning by the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission for December 2011 show that 46.5% of ‘non-resident parents’ using the CSA are unemployed (http://www.childmaintenance.org/en/publications/stats1211.html). This demonstrates that the proposed amendment from Lord Mackay of Clashfern scheduled today in the House of Lords to place all charges for collection of child maintenance on the ‘non-resident parent’ would be unworkable. His belief that the CSA is used almost exclusively to target fathers who wish to shirk their parental responsibilities is a gross misrepresentation of the financial and personal realities of many separated families, and the amendment would be damaging to the best interests of children in the long term.

 

Research from Australia has previously shown that the costs of parenting are much higher for parents who are not living with their children than they are in intact families (http://washingtonsharedparenting.com/web/cswg/2001HenmanNCPCostofContact.PDF). This means that low-income fathers who wish to have an active role in their children’s lives are already often placed in untenable financial positions, which would be exacerbated by Lord Mackay’s proposals.

 

 

Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, commented, “Low income fathers are not bad parents as Lord Mackay’s comments suggest. Many, though, are forced to live on the bread-line if they want to remain a part of their children’s lives. Placing all of the charges for collection of maintenance onto these parents would only result in a vicious cycle of accumulated debts and arrears, harming their capability to get back in to work and to a position where they would be able to support their children in the long term. This clearly would not be in the best interests of the children involved, and would be a regressive step for child maintenance in the UK,”

 

 

The majority of families using the CSA are those where trust has broken down irrevocably between the parents. Lord Mackay’s view that this is almost always a result of fathers who do not wish to support their children is dangerously misguided.

 

 

Ken Sanderson commented, “The reduction of shared parenting or a meaningful relationship to time alone in the report is a complete misunderstanding of the issues. Shared parenting is not about an equal share of time; it is about ensuring the full involvement of both parents in a child’s life, with both parents having an equal say in areas such as education and health, as well as routine and leisure time. The adoption of these proposals would continue to deny thousands of children the full involvement of two loving parents following family breakdown, and to do so would be a betrayal of yet another generation of children in this country in family law. 

 

 

Ken Sanderson, CEO of Families Need Fathers, commented, “It is wrong for someone in Lord Mackay’s position to give the impression that the CSA exists because fathers do not want to support their children. The existing culture around maintenance though is that the CSA is the default option, which the Government is attempting to change. Lord Mackay’s assumption that the CSA is only used because fathers want to avoid their responsibilities has no justification, and is not only an insult to those providing for their children, but also perpetuates a negative stereotype of separated fathers which is outdated and wrong.”

 

ENDS 

 

 

For comment, case studies or information please contact:

 

Ross Jones, Acting Director of Policy and Research 0300 0300 110

 

Vahsti Hale, Policy and Research Officer 0300 0300 110

 

 

Note for editors: Families Need Fathers (FNF) is a registered charity providing information and support on shared parenting issues arising from family breakdown, and support to divorced and separated parents, irrespective of gender or marital status.

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FNF HSSF Kite Mark Award

Families Need Fathers has been awarded the Help and Support for Separated Families Kite Mark which is a new UK government accreditation scheme for organisations offering help to separated families.

Families Need Fathers work with a range of family law professionals, including Family Law Panel

 

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