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Review Of Enforcement Of Child Maintenance Orders Now Published.

  • Review’s 26 recommendations include developing child maintenance guidelines, strengthening attachment of earnings orders and introducing additional enforcement mechanisms
  • Minister for Justice signals intention to move swiftly to implementation and also welcomes co-operation of Government colleague Minister Humphreys
  • Notes that publication fulfils a key action within the Government’s Family Justice Strategy goal of ‘supporting children’.

The Review of the Enforcement of Child Maintenance Orders has been published today.
Carried out to examine how the current system can be improved, this published review, now contains 26 recommendations, spanning three different approaches; those of consensus, compliance and deterrence.

Commenting on its publication, Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee, TD said: “Non-payment of child maintenance is a common problem and the current enforcement options available are limited in scope and impact.
This is clearly unacceptable, given the critical source of income which it can represent. That is why, working with Minister Humphreys, I am determined to take action in this area to ensure that every child is properly supported.”

Referring to the content of the review, she continued: “These recommendations are designed to deliver maximum compliance with child maintenance orders, and that is why I intend to commence the implementation process immediately. That will involve establishing an interdepartmental group to develop a set of child maintenance guidelines and I will do that without delay.
At a later point, I will seek government approval for other recommendations which will require legislative change to ensure I do everything I can to ensure security and stability for children.
My colleague Minister Humphreys is also looking at what actions she can take and I welcome her intention to bring forward measures in the near future which will also help alleviate the risk of poverty for families in this situation.”

Minister Humphreys added: “I very much welcome these steps taken by Minister McEntee, which are designed to make our Child Maintenance System fairer and more effective. Child maintenance payments are essential in ensuring security and stability for children and protecting the welfare of families.
My own Department of Social Protection plays a key role in this regard and very shortly I will be announcing the legislative measures I am introducing to decouple social welfare from our Child Maintenance System, in line with the recommendations of the Child Maintenance Review Group”.

The key recommendations of the review include:

  1. Development of a set of child maintenance guidelines.
  2. Strengthening attachment of earnings orders and exploring the possibility of attaching an order to a PPS number rather than employing entities, so that orders do not lapse when there is a change in employer.
  3. Introduction of a single enforcement procedure when the receiving parent makes an enforcement application, allowing the judge to choose the most appropriate enforcement option based on the circumstances of the case.
  4. Simplification of the bench warrant process.
  5. Placing the onus on paying parents to pay costs associated with enforcement proceedings.
  6. Allowing deductions from the paying parent’s bank accounts, from government grants and subsidies and the recovery of arrears from tax refunds.

Making the point that the review has its place in the Family Justice Strategy 2022-2025 – that of ‘supporting children’, Minister McEntee continued: “I am aware that many parents make private child maintenance arrangements. However, there will always be circumstances in which private arrangements either break down or are not possible.
In these circumstances, the courts are tasked with safeguarding the financial welfare of children and it is my firm intention that this review, along with the changes being progressed through the Family Justice Strategy will lead to a family justice system that is effective, efficient and that provides real justice.”

A copy of the Review of the Enforcement of Child Maintenance Orders can be accessed HERE.

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