News Brief: Make 'em pay!

Over the weekend we heard of another Conservative idea aimed at encouraging couples to stay together. According to The Telegraph: "Parents who split up face having to pay a "fee" to the government to sort out their child maintenance arrangements under controversial plans to tackle family breakdown." The fee would only be payable by those who can't agree child maintenance themselves. The Telegraph goes on: "[the fee] would only be levelled at the end of a process of mediation when the state stepped in to "police" maintenance payments and child access arrangements", which sounds dangerously like linking the issues of child maintenance and contact.

The rationale for the plan is explained by 'a Coalition source': "The aim would be to be act as a deterrent and help convince parents that splitting up should be an option of last resort when all other avenues had been taken. The whole system needs to be made more family friendly."

I don't honestly think that by the time separating parents get to the point of discussing child maintenance that having to pay a fee will make them decide to stay together after all. On the other hand, having to pay a fee may deter the less well off from seeking child maintenance.


  1. Interesting, and I am not as negative as yourself I think about this. Two questions I have though would ask please:

    1. By the parents, is this just more punitive legislation against the nrp? (in which case I disagree). Or is this a 50:50 split? (in which case I agree).

    2. I am not sure I disagree that linking maintenance and contact is dangerous as you say, perhaps someone could say why is a bad idea? For me seems sensible to ensure maintenance and contact and both are more likely when the other is present therefore makes sense.

  2. Contact is determined on the basis of what is best for the child's welfare, not whether or how much the nrp pays.

  3. I disagree. It is naive to think the two are not linked. Where there are contact difficulties then there are usually payment difficulties and vice versa. Specifically, where the NRP gets the contact they want, there are not usually payment difficulties.

    The vision of children's interests is one which does little but fuel litigation. The only reason isn't in the childs interests is where there is abuse. Think we need to agree to disagree again.

  4. I meant to say, the only reason where contact isn't in the childs interests is where there is abuse. Think we need to agree to disagree again.

  5. I don't disagree with you on what the law is, I was talking about what the law should be.

  6. So you don't believe that any of the other factors should be taken into account? A somewhat limited view of child welfare.

  7. Yes, that's what I'm saying, up to 50:50. It's not that controvertial really. A presumption of as much contact as you like up to 50% of the time where there is no abuse, makes sense and not open to abuse as current system is. Would solve everything. Maintenance calculation also needs to be looked at as maintenance when you see your kids 50% of the time is indefensible as are the CSA broad brush percentages. As article says, needs to be agreed between parties as fair and part of global deal.

    As Arthur C Clarke says, it does not make sense to over complicate things; it does make sense to think things as simple as they need to be.

  8. I am not necessarily against a shared parenting presumption, but you still need to look at all relevant factors when considering a child's welfare.

  9. The problem with that is Judges and Barristers get involved and then the person with the most money tends to win in court under 'balance of probability'.

    Therefore I agree to disagree with you again and stand by what I say as I am not sure anyone else has the right to tell me how to parent my children if I do not abuse them and resent anybody from the bottom of my heart for suggesting otherwise.

    From an outsider looking in turkey's voting for Christmas I doubt will happen though.

  10. Well, I certainly disagree with the proposition that no factor other than abuse should be looked at when considering a child's welfare!

  11. Yes, despite voting Lib Dem and not Tory, hence I think probably at least a very small part of the reasons behind the proposal (as is probably the biggest reason I didn't vote Tory) I am right wing and do not believe in excessive state intervention into the family and keeping them out and out of the bedroom. It is excessive state intervention and big Government which is the route of the problem, not inherently bad parenting.

    It is the lesser of two evils to give 50% parenting time to ok Dads and involve them where possible, than have single parent families with absent fathers running wild in the streets while hunting for their fathers as the people to blame and pay when they are not. I could go on but I think you know where I am coming from, if you need further information, please let me know.

    I am not even a member of FnF or F4J, but think they are appropriately named and also have been under represented in drawing up dogy legislation and that is part of the route of the mess. A move such as this towards both parents being more valued is a step in the right direction imho.


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