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Thursday
Aug022012

Scottish MP suggests minutes of agreement the answer for child support

Sheila Gilmore MP  Edinburgh MP Sheila Gilmore's suggestion that Scottish Minutes of Agreement could be useful throughout the whole of the UK met with support during a recent House of Commons debate on child support (from column 107WH)

In Scotland separating parents can enter into a minute of agreement which is registered with the court.  This is enforceable for a year, and prevents either party form seeking maintenance through a child support assessment.

Sheila suggested that this procedure could be applied n the rest of the UK, and that agreements could last for longer than one year.

The Commons debate came as we await final details of the new child maintenance scheme.  One change took place at the start of August, when the Child Maintenance Enforcement Commission was 're-absorbed'into the Department of Work and Pensions.

Many more changes to come, including a decision on the name of the new maintenance service - how about calling it the Child Support Agency?

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Reader Comments (2)

I went to the parliament website to read the minute of the debate and I noted a comment from Edinburgh MP Sheila Gilmore in regard to family-based agreements (column 112WH):
".... However, the crucial point missing from that analysis is that the people who end up using the CSA are those who cannot reach family-based arrangements. Those who can reach such arrangements do so, and we are not comparing like with like if we come to that conclusion and decide that we should basically shrink the existing statutory system....."
I must say that I completely disagree with this statement in her speech. It is rather short-sighted as in my particular case, I was the one trying to come to an agreement for the sake of my daughter. Needless to say I couldn't even come close to one as my ex-partner was 'advised' to ditch the talks and go straight to the CSA. It is very easy to pick-up the phone and throw the CSA against the presumed-criminal father, no questions asked, they pick the case based on the mother sole request and put all their machinery into bullying (I was threatened to be sent to jail) and extortion the money from fathers.

I have been following the current debate in regard to overhaul the child maintenance system. I believe that the underlying intention of the government is good, indication of shared parenting must be clearly stated and enforced when necessary. 'Shared' must be stressed: parenting is everything about providing (typically translated as money), caring, educating and creating meaningful relationships with our children (At the moment I have experienced that the system regard fathers as mere 'walking wallets' and nothing else).

I will be writing to MP Sheila Gilmore to let her know my thoughts about her statement. Also, I will add some issues that haven't been mentioned in the debate, and that I would like to be heard such as:
- Removing the negative correlation between money and contact, i.e. the less contact a father gets, the more money a mother gets. Currently, the system blatantly encourage the wrong behaviour on mothers.
- There is no baseline whatsoever to assess the needs of a child according to his/her development. The current system goes against the father and invade his privacy to calculate an 'appropriate' maintenance. I believe that somebody must set a standard level of expenses (to actually get it closer to an 'appropriate' level) for a child then (somehow) divide that amount between the parents. Other countries do so (Australia and Norway to name two), why the UK can't set the bar? Alternatively, the mother can exercise some honesty and come forward and put on the table the amount of reasonable expenses the child requires and then discuss how to provide for it between the parents. At the moment (and allow me to exaggerate) the mother may be earning millions and yet, demand all the maintenance from the father, or both could be earning the exact same amount and only the father is enforced to provide.
- The current system is rather too easy to be abused by mothers. Filters must be put in place to disregard cases where the child is at no harm or disadvantaged. The system presumes the child is suffering from day one and that the father is the one to blame. This needs to stop. Morals have got lost in the current system under the presumption that fathers are criminals for having separated from the mother.

August 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAntonio F.

Child maintenance may already be agreed in a Consent Order in England & Wales, so surely that is the same as entering into a Minute of Agreement?

My understanding is currently when there is a Minute of Agreement/Consent Order it is enforceable until it ceases to have any effect. The 12 month rule bars applications to the CSA for one year, but after that either parent may apply to the CSA and the agreement only ceases to have any effect when the CSA notifies the court. That means the agreement remains enforceable after 12 months unless an application is made to the CSA.

September 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFiona

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