1999 articles - 2nd quarter
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men take the pill?
The female pill revolutionised contraception in the 60s - will
the male equivalent do the same?
Contraception is often regarded as a female responsibility, but
with the male pill successfully emerging from scientific trials,
all this could change. A pill/patch combination method of contraception
for men has been developed by three UK researchers. Morton Hair,
Kay Kitteridge and Fred Wu carried out trials on 23 men, who took
a progesterone hormone pill, while wearing a body patch containing
the sex hormone testosterone. The volunteers were divided into three
different groups, receiving low, medium and high levels of the progesterone
pill. Most of the men in the high and medium groups showed no active
sperm after three months. When they stopped taking the pill their
sperm counts gradually returned to normal. The method has still
to be perfected, but Dr Wu believes that this work will lead to
a more acceptable method of male contraception.
But given the opportunity, will men actually take the pill? Or
more to the point, will women trust them to?
(The debate is snipped - see the link on the left. The debate
mostly missed the point. Many men will take the pill, rather
than risk up to 18 years payments via the CSA! See a
discussion about this topic).
Child support case for court in Europe
by ROSEMARY FREE
(This is the topic of an
explanation of the law, and also of a
case study showing how silly it is).
A father who shares joint custody of his son with his ex-wife is
bidding to make legal history when he takes the Child Support Agency
to the European Court. Mr Mark Cook, from Cupar in Fife, is being
forced to pay £175 a month in child maintenance despite the
fact he looks after 13-year-old Russell on alternate weeks with
his former wife, Caroline. He claimed yesterday he had been labelled
an absent father by the agency because his ex-wife retained their
son's child benefit book. The bid for a ruling by the European Court
has been made after the Fife father exhausted all the options available
to him under the British legal system. "My main reason is I
hope it never happens to anyone else," said Mr Cook. "All
I want is parity. For someone to decide I am an absent parent just
because I am not in receipt of child benefit is absolutely preposterous.
He added: "The CSA have admitted they got it wrong but can't
do anything because of the legislatory framework which prevents
them from looking into individual cases."
"What is even more ludicrous is that the CSA has confirmed
to Mr Cook that if he had two children and he and his wife shared
custody of both, then the Secretary of State would have decided
each parent should receive benefit for one child and there would
then be no claim for child maintenance against Mr Cook.
A father killed himself after he was wrongly told hed have
to pay more to the CSA, an inquest heard yesterday. [X}, 39, gassed
himself in his car. But ten days after his death a letter to him
from the CSA revealed that a mistake had been made. He had actually
been overcharged by £700. "He said he was having a problem
financially with the amount of money the CSA were taking",
his father [Y] said.... "After his death his employer received
a letter from the CSA saying they had made a mistake to the tune
Mid Hants coroner Grahame Short said: "I dont think
we will ever know for sure why he took his own life. "I think
it was a combination of his inability to break his drug habit, the
financial pressures he found mounting against him and in particular
the problems with the CSA."
Responsibility order same as paternity finding
Regina v Secretary of State for Social Services, Ex parte W
Before Mr Justice Johnson
Where a parental responsibility order had been made on grounds
unrelated to paternity, under section 4(1)(a) of the Children Act
1989, that order satisfied the requirement of a finding or adjudication
of paternity, under case F of section 26(2) of the Child Support
Act 1991. Mr Justice Johnson so held in the Family Division when
allowing an application for judicial review of the decision of the
Secretary of State for Social Services on November 13, 1997 not
to make a maintenance assessment order.
The mother and Mr S, the putative father of her two daughters,
had separated in 1989. Mr S applied for a parental responsibility
order, which was made in his favour, by consent, on July 8, 1994,
by District Judge Jolly. When applying for the order, Mr S was aware
of the interest of the Child Support Agency. Mr S then returned
a completed form to the agency, in such a way as to indicate that
he denied paternity of the two children.
When Dad Walks Away
By David Moller and Simon Hemelryk
"My ex has got only one child living with her and I've got
one with me, so why should I pay maintenance?" asks [X] from
Dudley, West Midlands, who won £90,000 on the lottery last
year. He has resisted all attempts by the Government's Child Support
Agency (CSA) to persuade him to support his 13-year-old son, who
lives with his former wife.
The financial cost of deadbeat dads has been stupendous. There
are more than 1.8 million children who do not receive a penny in
maintenance from their non-resident parents. The resulting bill
for the taxpayer (including child benefit) has zoomed from £2
billion per year in 1979 to a staggering £10.4 billion last
year. The CSA was set up in 1993 in an attempt to make absent parents,
usually fathers, help pay for the maintenance of their children.
Unfortunately, rather than chasing those making no contributions
at all to their children's upkeep, it tended to target sitting-duck
fathers who had already achieved "clean-break" maintenance
agreements with their former partners. The CSA has also been palpably
weak on enforcement. Some 30 per cent of those it has assessed are
still paying no maintenance, so a total of £1 billion is now
owed to the agency.
The self-employed have been particularly difficult to pin down
for payments. Mrs [Y] of Freethorpe, Norfolk, had an eight-year
battle through the courts and the CSA before her former husband
was finally packed off to prison for six weeks for failing to pay
some £15,000 maintenance. "He used every trick in the
book to dodge his responsibilities to me and our two young sons,"
she says. "Because of the lack of co-ordination between the
Benefits Agency, CSA and Inland Revenue, it seems to be easier for
husbands to evade their family obligations than to get out of a
Meanwhile, fathers who bitterly resist the CSA's very existence
have formed several groups to sabotage its work. One, the Network
Against the Child Support Act (NACSA), has even set up an Internet
site to inform absent fathers on how best to defraud the state.
A popular ploy is to get the mother to refuse to divulge the identity
of a child's father by falsely claiming that she fears his retaliatory
violence. "Your ex is the best friend you have," NACSA
brightly informs fathers who are seeking to evade payments. "She
may be only too delighted to dump the CSA and come to a private
agreement about child maintenance." Why are former partners
willing to collude? Because they know that the benefits system will
make good the shortfall in maintenance that errant fathers should
be paying to the CSA. Since 1995, claims for "good cause"
exemptions have doubled to an annual 230,221, of which some 31,000
In the end, it is the country's taxpayers who pick up the tab.
But the real losers, of course, are the children. "Parents
are crucial to their children's self-esteem," concludes Adrienne
Katz, who recently co-ordinated Leading Lads, an Oxford University
study of more than 1,400 teenage boys. "It is not enough for
the father simply to be present," she adds. "He has to
give a lead. Boys, in particular, like rules and boundaries."
Her research showed that those whose fathers spent time listening
to them and being involved were more likely to grow up to be confident,
How do other EU countries cope with paying the costs of children
of absent partners?
Jill Eckersley reports on ideas worth looking at
Most EU countries apart from Britain have schemes to give reliable
income for single parents, according to a report published today.
It comes as the government is planning extensive reforms to the
child support agency (CAS), and is expected to publish a white paper
soon. Based on a 13-month study by Anne Corden of York University's
social policy research unit, the report looks at how child maintenance
is assessed and collected in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland,
France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. EU
countries share common problems of rising divorce rates, increasing
lone parenthood and spiralling social security budgets. "We
hope that this report will contribute to the debate," says
author Corden. "We are not suggesting that the UK should do
things the way other countries do, but we can learn from the way
they approach the issues and how successful they are at dealing
with them. "Most child maintenance schemes were developed against
a background of 'earning fathers'. Increasingly, unemployed men
and men on low earnings are expected to make their incomes stretch
over two households. All over Europe, more fluid family structures
and re-constituted families are putting a strain on child support
One major difference between the UK and the other countries studied,
except the Netherlands, is that the CSA has no "'advance maintenance
scheme". In most of the rest of the EU, parents with care (usually
mothers) can apply to have at least part of their child maintenance
paid by the state, which then recovers the money from the absent
parent. Another major difference is the cut-off point for child
support. In Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands it is
payable right through further education. The report also found that
the issue of domestic violence was rarely part of the debate in
other EU countries. In Britain, it's a point that is often raised
by groups campaigning for single parents and is frequently quoted
as a reason for mothers' reluctance to claim maintenance through
the CSA. "Denmark appears to have the least problematic scheme,"
says Corden. "It delivers relatively low amounts of child maintenance,
but this doesn't attract criticism because of the economic and social
structures of the country." The Danish scheme works because
it's simple to understand, locally administered, long established,
and because Denmark is a country with a universalist welfare state
which supports all families, where mothers are expected to do paid
work and where affordable childcare enables them to do so.
Single mothers slam CSA reforms
Many single mothers on benefits do not co-operate with the CSA
Proposals to reform the Child Support Act could increase violence
against women and children, say single mothers' groups. They are
holding a press conference on Thursday to highlight their concerns
and say research shows that one in four women has experienced domestic
violence. But the Single Mothers' Self-Defence group, a network
of mothers in the London and Manchester area, says many of these
may have been victims of domestic violence. It says its views are
supported by more than 100 women's organisations in the UK. Kim
Sparrow, a spokeswoman for the group, said: "We want to publicise
the drastic effects the proposals will have on single mothers and
children's safety. "The reforms are trying to make it easier
for fathers to have access as a pay-off for coming up with money.
One of the main aims of the reforms is to encourage both parents
to play a role in raising their children. Its Green Paper states:
"Parents may divorce each other, but they should never divorce
Boy fathers must pay for child when they get first job
By George Jones, Political Editor
TEENAGE boys who get girls pregnant will have to pay child maintenance
when they start work, under Government plans to be unveiled today
to halve the number of teenage pregnancies by 2010. The Downing
Street social exclusion unit is proposing that teenagers should
be warned of the "lifetime" commitment involved in fathering
a child. Government sources said that boys who fathered a child
at 15 should no longer be able to escape their responsibilities.
The Child Support Agency would be alerted and would seek to keep
track of schoolboy fathers so that when they started earning money
they would have to make maintenance payments.
DRIVING BAN ON ABSENT FATHERS
BY SARAH WOMACK AND RACHEL ELLIS
FATHERS who fail to pay child maintenance will lose their driving
licences in a crackdown on teenage pregnancies. The Child Support
Agency will be given tough new powers to confiscate licences from
those who regularly miss payments, The Express has learned. A senior
Whitehall source said: "We are introducing a reality check
on the 'Jack the lad' culture. The message from the CSA is quite
simply that you may be, say, 15, but sex comes at a price - one
reckless Saturday night might mean paying up for the next 16 years."
There will also be a £10million advertising campaign. Boys
will be told that the CSA will pursue them for cash as soon as they
reach working age.
face teen pregnancy crackdown
Boys who father children are to be brought face to face with the
consequences of unprotected sex as part of a £60m programme
to tackle teenage pregnancy. Mr Blair said the Child Support Agency
reforms were geared towards ensuring that boys who fathered children
were tracked down and forced to pay towards maintenance. It is thought
that just 15% of teenage mothers currently receive maintenance from
Labour chooses 'Third Way' on teen pregnancy
The BBC's Social Affairs Editor Niall Dickson analyses the implications
of the social exclusion unit's report on teenage pregnancies
British teenagers are more likely to get pregnant than their European
counterparts. Caught between a strong liberal lobby anxious to promote
safer sex and a strong traditional lobby anxious to discourage promiscuity
among the young, the government has once again sought to find a
'third way'. Its measures are designed to encourage young people
to meet their responsibilities while avoiding the moralising and
punitive tone which is felt to alienate many young people. So the
New Labour refrain of 'responsibility' will be heard loud and clear
with a message directed at boys as much girls. The Child Support
Agency will be warning boys that the days when they could father
children and escape the financial consequences are numbered.
Blair launches £60m plan to cut teen births
BY JILL SHERMAN, WHITEHALL EDITOR
TONY BLAIR yesterday unveiled a £60 million plan to halve
the rate of teenage pregnancies in Britain, including proposals
to set up hostels for young mothers. The measures, outlined in a
report from the Government's Social Exclusion Unit, are part of
a programme to inform young girls and particularly boys about the
consequences of early sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases,
and the practical and financial burdens of early parenthood.
Teenage fathers: young fathers will be forced to pay for their
children as soon as they start a job. The Child Support Agency will,
as a priority, ensure that teengage fathers are chased up to pay
for the care of babies, to hammer home the financial penalty of
young parenthood. Even those without a job will have to pay £5
Teenage Pregnancy - Report from the Social Exclusion Unit (The
Publications Centre, PO Box 276, London SW85DT; £15)
'Anybody who believes that teenagers will hold back from sex because
it might cost them a fiver should have got out more when they were
(The author is Editor of LM magazine).
Despite being abandoned by its own single parent, Peter Mandelson,
the Government's Social Exclusion Unit appears to be thriving. This
week the Prime Minister himself launched an SEU report proposing
£60 million-worth of new measures designed to halve the number
of teenage pregnancies within ten years. The tune sounds familiar,
but the distinctive new Labour twist is to turn the heat on young,
errant fathers as well as teenage single mothers. The idea appears
to be that boys and young men could be made to stop getting girls
pregnant, if only they knew that they would be forced to pay child
support as soon as they start work. Even teenagers on benefits will
have to pay a fiver. Just as young people enjoy a lower minimum
wage, so wages of their sin are to be set at a £5-a-week fine.
These proposals mark a new triumph of political correctness over
common sense. Who really believes that threatening to impoverish
young men with a tax on unsafe sex will act as an effective contraceptive?
And what possible benefit can it be to a young mother to make her
dependent on getting a (very) few quid from a feckless former boyfriend?
The intention cannot be to help girls, but to punish naughty boys
- something spelt out by the floated proposal (imported, like so
much of this, from America) to allow the Child Support Agency to
confiscate the driving licences of those who fail to pay. As one
Whitehall source put it: "The message from the CSA is quite
simply that you may be, say, 15, but sex comes at a price - one
reckless Saturday night might mean paying for the next 16 years."
Or, as the nuns used to say to convent girls: "A moment of
pleasure, a lifetime of regret."
The SEU emphasises that rates of teenage pregnancy in the United
Kingdom are far higher than, say, those in The Netherlands. What
such comparisons do not reveal is that the rates of teenage sexual
activity in both countries are about the same. Dutch teenagers simply
have easier access to better contraceptive services.
Judge refuses to pay child maintenance
by Paul Nuki and Chris Dignan
A JUDGE who specialises in family law is facing a financial assessment
by the Child Support Agency (CSA) after refusing to pay maintenance
for two of his
children. The case, thought to be the first to involve a senior
member of the judiciary, will embarrass the legal fraternity, not
least because the judge's former wife is a practising lawyer. Earlier
this year she is understood to have asked the CSA to secure maintenance
payments from [X] for her two youngest children.
"Since we separated in 1991 my ex-wife has never before this
year sought maintenance from me for any of our four children for
the simple reason that they continued to live with me and I continue
to look after them," said [X], who believes the leaking of
the information was designed to cause embarrassment. "There
has been no change in the family circumstances and accordingly her
claim to the CSA is misconceived. There is no question of her not
'properly receiving' child maintenance because she is not entitled
JAIL THREAT FOR FATHERS WHO DON'T PAY MAINTENANCE
Absent fathers who fail to pay maintenance to their ex-wives could
face jail under plans to be unveiled this week by the Government,
it was reported tonight. Social Security Secretary Alistair Darling
will reveal proposals to beef up the powers of the controversial
Child Support Agency in a Government White Paper to be published
this week. For the first time it will become a criminal offence
for fathers to give false information about their earnings to the
In an article for the News of the World, Mr Darling said that although
the CSA had a million children on its books, only about one-in-four
saw any money from their absent parent.
Independent On Sunday
CSA told: shape up or be privatised
By Rachel Sylvester, political editor
THE CHILD Support Agency will be privatised if it does not dramatically
improve the collection of money from absent parents, under radical
plans being drawn up by ministers. The Downing Street policy unit
is working with officials from the Department of Social Security
on proposals to sell off the entire organisation to the private
sector if it does not meet tough new efficiency targets.
Although no mention is made of privatisation in the policy document,
ministers are already examining detailed plans to sell off the agency
if its operation does not improve in the public sector. Wholesale
privatisation would go much further than ideas which have already
been floated to contract out individual parts of the CSA, such as
the collection services. Senior staff at the agency have already
been consulted about the practical implications of the proposal.
One option is to include the proposal in Labour's manifesto for
the next election as a way of demonstrating the party's commitment
to being radical on welfare. "It's on the agenda," one
senior government source said. "It's been discussed at ministerial
level and we wouldn't shy away from it if we could see that it was
likely to operate better in the private sector. The White Paper
sets out the next stage but privatisation is definitely an option
after that." Whitehall sources privately admit that this week's
reforms will make the organisation a far more "attractive proposition"
for sale than it has been in the past. The plan follows a wide-ranging
review of child support, which found fundamental problems in the
workings of the controversial agency.
Non-paying fathers face jail
by Eben Black, Chief Political Correspondent
ABSENT fathers who fail to pay maintenance to their ex-wives face
jail sentences under government reforms that could result in thousands
of middle-class professionals having criminal records. For the first
time it will become a criminal offence not to co-operate with the
Child Support Agency (CSA) - the body set up to cut the welfare
bill by clawing back cash from divorced and separated parents. Alistair
Darling, the social security secretary, plans to announce the new
powers in the Commons on Thursday.
Under current rules, it is only a civil offence to refuse to pay
after an order is made by the agency. A persistent offender, however,
can be jailed for failure to pay subsequent fines. The reforms mean
that those who fail to pay or lie to the CSA can be dealt with immediately
in the criminal courts which will be able to jail "deadbeat
dads" for up to six months. In the eight years since the agency
was created, fewer than 10 people have been jailed for failure to
pay fines. Government sources hope that criminalising non-payers
will act as a deterrent, but concede that the policy could see hundreds
- or even thousands - of people sent to jail. Single parents on
benefit have to tell the agency the name of the absent parent so
that money can be demanded from him/her to ease benefit bills.
PAY UP OR GO TO JAIL, FATHERS TOLD
FATHERS who fail to pay towards the upkeep of their children will
face jail under tough new laws. They will also have their driving
licences seized and have to pay interest penalties on the money
they owe. And it will be the first time driving bans have been imposed
for non- motoring offences, aimed at young dads who see their car
as a status symbol and others who use their vehicles to work in
the black economy.
The agency will be streamlined; it can take three years to assess
what a father should pay.
Labour launches welfare offensive
The party claims Brussels apathy lost them the Euro elections,
but a raft of reforms suggests otherwise
Patrick Wintour and Martin Bright
Ministers hope that a string of announcements on welfare reform
this week will show that the socially excluded remain at the heart
of the party's programme. Wednesday will see the most controversial
reform of the lot - reform of the Child Support Agency. Electorally,
the CSA is an explosive issue. By 2003, it is expected to be handling
1.2 million cases, affecting 2.4m parents. Blunkett admitted last
week that it is the single most frequent issue in any MP's surgery.
And little wonder. Speaking in advance of the White Paper, Darling
admitted the CSA has never got off its knees since the fiasco of
its launch eight years ago. He said: 'Fewer than 250,000 children
are benefiting directly from maintenance that is paid; of those,
only half are seeing all of the money that is due. The proportion
of lone parents on income support receiving maintenance from the
father of the child is exactly the same as it was eight years ago
- 20 per cent of them.' The key reform will be to simplify the assessment
so that most non-resident parents with earnings of more than £200
a week will have to pay 15 per cent of their income for one child.
Currently CSA staff spend 90 per cent of their time on complex assessments
and only 10 per cent on enforcement. This reform is intended to
change that. But simplification comes with a price: a less flexible
system may be less fair.
How will this play with the core vote? The Chancellor Gordon Brown,
currently very active in the repoliticisation of Government, has
ensured that 70 per cent of fathers will be charged less because
of the percentage of income they are required to pay.
Jail for fathers who won't pay
White Paper will unveil tough new powers for CSA as Ministers go
on the offensive with welfare shake-up
Patrick Wintour, Political Editor
Fathers face the prospect of jail and automatic fines if they repeatedly
refuse to co-operate with a streamlined Child Support Agency or
continually delay making payments for their children. Tough new
enforcement powers will form the centrepiece of a White Paper on
Wednesday imposing wholesale reform on the CSA, one of the great
administrative fiascos of the last Conservative government.
The CSA will also be given powers to impose flexible fines, of
up to 25 per cent of unpaid maintenance bills. The Inland Revenue
will also be allowed to pass on information about a father's income
to the CSA. Darling said in future fathers would be required to
pay 'every penny that is due'. The present system gave them the
chance to give the CSA 'the runaround'. 'If you need 100 pieces
of information, it is easy to volunteer the first 90, and then come
back with the last 10 and say, ''by the way, the first 10 have changed''.
That is what is happening at present.'
will spy on fathers who say they cannot pay
By Martin Bentham, Welfare Correspondent
UNDERCOVER inspectors will carry out "lifestyle checks"
on absent fathers who fail to pay child maintenance, under a Government
crackdown to be announced this week. Child Support Agency inspectors
will keep watch on men's homes to monitor how they spend their time
and money, and will have the power to enter their properties to
examine financial records. The aim is to identify those who enjoy
luxurious lifestyles but deliberately understate their wealth to
minimise payments to their former partners. Ministers are convinced
that such abuses are widespread, particularly among the self-employed,
and are determined to eliminate them, ensuring that more money is
chanelled to children. The inspectors, whose powers will be backed
by the threat of £1,000 fines for fathers who fail to co-operate,
will be announced on Thursday as part of a "root and branch"
reform of the CSA which has become notorious for bureaucratic inefficiency
since its formation six years ago.
The CSA was founded in 1993 but has been criticised repeatedly
by MPs and the National Audit Office for processing cases too slowly,
making mistakes in many of the bills it sends out, and even identifying
the wrong fathers. Despite previous management overhauls and the
replacement of two chief executives, one-third of assessments still
take more than six months to complete.
aims reforms at the poor
By Jon Hibbs Political Correspondent
DAVID BLUNKETT yesterday acknowledged concerns that Labour was
losing touch with traditional supporters ahead of a Government drive
this week to promote policies that are intended to benefit the less
well-off. Mr Blunkett labelled the Government's approach as "tough
but tender", conceding that ordinary Labour supporters had
not heard enough about the benefits they stood to gain from the
package. He said: "These things tend to get lost in the morass
of disagreement and division," welcoming in particular the
proposals to beef up the powers of the CSA. Under plans drawn up
by Alistair Darling, the Social Security Secretary, absent parents
who fail to pay maintenance for their children would face a range
of sanctions, from imprisonment and fines to the confiscation of
Ministers talk tough on CSA plans
David Brindle, Social Services Correspondent
Ministers, fearing the government's changes to the child support
agency which will cut most maintenance payments will be seen as
a victory for "absent" fathers, are playing up the toughness
of the reforms. Briefings ahead of a white paper, due on Thursday,
have stressed the prospects of punitive sanctions, including jail,
against men who fail to pay child maintenance for which they have
been assessed. The reality of the reforms for most people, however,
will be a less draconian system. The levels of maintenance payments
will fall, from an average £38 a week for one child under
the present CSA formula to £29, and up to 180,000 cases will
no longer fall under the agency's remit.
A spokesman for the anti-CSA National Association for Child Support
Action, said it was depressing to hear ministers using the terms
that had been all too familiar under the last administration. "If
the government showed it truly had the interests of children at
heart... we would take its proposals more seriously."
Driving bans won't halt our deadbeat dads
By Mary Kenny
I met a black pastor the other day who talked to me about his popular
Seventh Day Adventist church in the North of England. Oh yes, his
community certainly were keen on family values and family worship.
But he had to admit there was a problem with young males. "They
will go around begetting numbers of children by different mothers,"
he lamented. "Perhaps," I said sentimentally, "they
just love babies." "No, they don't love babies. They love
women and they love sex!" he exclaimed. "And they can't
be bothered to take responsibility for their kids." It was
an enduring social and cultural problem, he said, and his community
just had to do the best it could to teach these guys to change.
The minister sometimes tried to get the mothers to pursue the menfolk
through the Child Support Agency but quite often the young women
didn't want to do that: it was a matter of pride. They wanted the
men to care for them of their own accord, not through the coercion
of a government agency.
The pastor had sketched out for me, with refreshing honesty, the
simple outline of a problem which stretches across various cultures
in Britain, white just as much as black. There are too many single,
unsupported young mums in Britain; and there are too many "deadbeat
dads" who scarper at the thought of paying for the children
they have fathered. The CSA was set up with a view to redressing
the problem of the fathers who won't pay. Will such draconian measures
work? I doubt it very much. The bureaucracy involved could be Byzantine.
The criminal justice is blurry: confiscating a driving licence for
a non-motoring offence is bizarre and the State coercion aspect
is not only unpleasant but impractical. If a father is sent to prison
for not supporting his children, he is likely to be in even less
of a position to do so.
Instead of devising endless new draconian measures for the CSA
to implement, the Government should support and endorse marriage
for the parents of young children. The Home Secretary should not
make silly speeches about all forms of family arrangement being
equal in the face of ample evidence to the contrary. Sex education
lessons should point out that the best thing a man can do for the
mother of his children is to marry her - even if the marriage is
not successful in the end, it is better to give that commitment
for a few years than not at all. The CSA is on a hiding to nothing
in a society which gives marriage no special value (or financial
benefits) because an economic goal cannot be reached without the
social and cultural teaching which must support it.
The Question: Should fathers be jailed for refusing to pay child
maintenance as was proposed last week?
Interviews by Joanna Moorhead
Jim Parton Chairman of Families Need Fathers
Of course fathers should pay child support, but send them to prison,
and you're not doing anything to build any bridges: what you're
likely to do is turn resentment into hatred, and what might be short-term
anger into long-term bitterness.
Adrienne Burgess Author of Fatherhood Reclaimed (Vermillion)
You have to look at why fathers, if they're the non-resident parent,
aren't paying up - and it's often because they see it as the only
way of exercising some control in this situation. I'd never say
that contact visits should be dependent on the provision of maintenance,
but I think it's only fair to point out that while our society is
putting a penalty on non-payment of maintenance, it isn't putting
that penalty on non-provision of authorised contact visits.
Janet Smith Lone parent with a five-year-old daughter
I'm very angry that ex-husbands like mine can get away without
paying money - he hasn't paid me a penny in five years. I've got
order after order to make him pay, but he simply won't.... But prison:
no. It's not the answer. Why doesn't the Child Support Agency take
out advertisements in local papers, and tell the world about fathers
who aren't meeting their obligations?
- Janet Smith's name has been changed for legal reasons.
Liz Sewell Head of Gingerbread, the lone parents' organisation
So many non-resident parents - and as we all know, that's mainly
absent fathers - try to avoid paying maintenance that I think the
time has come to use this sanction, and to send them to prison if
they won't cough up.... My main concern, though, would be for the
children involved; they've already had to put up with an acrimonious
home life, and now they're going to have a parent in prison.
Richard Woolfson Psychologist and author of From Birth To Starting
The repercussions for a child of seeing his father put in jail
because he hasn't been able to provide for his mum will be profound.
The child will blame their mother (why didn't she get a job?) and
themselves for the father being in prison (did I really need those
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