More news from one of our members studying in the UK on the proactive approach to family law issues taking place there, making Britain a current world leader in family law reform.
Turning to the problematic issue of child support, the UK Government is acknowledging the failure of the current scheme which it says now costs the British tax payer £460m a year to run and says it is time to scrap the Child Support Agency.
The British Government believes the issue of complusory child support often drives a wedge between parents and their children and encourages conflict, it says a settlement agreed independently is more likely to produce better outcomes for the child and inter-parental relations. It wants to do away with the stick and help parents by offering a carrot instead.
Under the proposed new system, parents will be able to get initial help and information on the range of options available to them free of charge. They can then decide whether to make their own arrangements, using the help they have received or to use the new statutory service for which there will be a charge.
In cases where either parent has suffered domestic violence, their case will be fast tracked directly onto the statutory service.
Costs could include an upfront application charge of around £100. Parents on benefits will pay a fee of £50, of which £20 will be paid upfront and the remainder in instalments. The Government seeks to justify the charge on the basis that it will encourage more parents to reach agreement together without automatically falling back on the state to resolve the issues.
Maria Miller, the Minister responsible for the consultation, says “Too often in the past the Child Support Agency has been used as a threat that can make the difficult time of separation worse instead of encouraging people to work together and take responsibility for their child.
“When couples split up they generally know what is best for them and their children without the state interfering. Thousands of parents are already working together to make their own maintenance arrangements without the help of the Agency and tell us these arrangements are working well.
“We want more people to come to their own maintenance arrangements which are in the best interest of the child and offer value to the taxpayer.”
The British Government also plans to scrap the Child Support Agency and replace it with a new more efficient statutory service for only those in most need and to tackle the minority of parents who refuse to pay any child support to the custodial parent.
Rule Bitannia! – Gerry H on behalf of the GerryMen Group.