Child maintenance

Bearing in mind it is a fundamental precept of divorce and family law that the rights of children are always paramount, the issue of child maintenance continues to be highly controversial, particularly bearing in mind the ineffectiveness of the Child Support Agency (CSA).

This site (Penlex) is fundamentally about criminal law, penal law and prison reform, and these are areas where successive Governments consistently come out with soundbites about changes they are going to make, there seems to us to be a connection between these areas of law. The criminal law has “teeth” but enforcing criminal law is hugely expensive, as is the situation with pursuing unpaid child maintenance, and whilst there are from time to time items in the tabloids about someone going to jail for unpaid maintenance, this seems to be the exception rather than the rule, and the fact that billions of pounds of child maintenance remain unpaid either suggests that the system is run very badly, it is still underesourced properly or that a parent who is not paying maintenance in part or in full simple has no respect for the law or it’s penalty impact on them. It may well be a combination of all these things.

Or perhaps is there a root cause issue, such as the argument in criminal law that prevention and rehabilitation are far better than simply locking people up. Is there some better system for family law than the CSA ? What do you think ? Please let us know your experiences or views and how you think the current system might be improved.