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Child Maintenance

Child support could be collected by Revenue or social welfare deductions under system overhaul

Justice Minister Helen McEntee says an interdepartmental group is being set up ‘without delay’.

CHILD SUPPORT COULD be collected by Revenue or deducted at source by linking attachment of earnings orders to the paying parent’s PPS number.

The review’s 26 recommendation, which has been published today, outlines how there should be an information sharing agreement established between Revenue, the Department of Social Protection and the Courts Service.

The report also sets out how child maintenance should also be able to be deducted from social welfare payments. It also set out that suspended sentences for non-payment of child maintenance should be explored. 

A recommendation is also contained in the report that could see money and assets frozen where there is non-payment, with child support being taken from a person’s bank account in some cases.

There could also be a mechanism introduced that will allow for a charge to be placed on a property so it cannot be sold or re-mortgaged without the payment of arrears owed to a parent.

Mandatory mediation information sessions could also be introduced to encourage voluntary maintenance agreements, with the government also being encouraged to run an awareness campaign to promote a “culture of paying”.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the non-payment of child maintenance is a common problem and the current enforcement options available are limited in scope and impact.

“This is clearly unacceptable, given the critical source of income which it can represent,” she said, stating that she is working with Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys on the roll out of the recommended changes to the system.

“I am determined to take action in this area to ensure that every child is properly supported,” McEntee said, adding that she intends to commence the implementation process immediately.

An interdepartmental group to develop a set of child maintenance guidelines is to be set up “without delay”.

“At a later point, I will seek government approval for other recommendations which will require legislative change to ensure I do everything I can to ensure security and stability for children,” said the justice minister. 

Humphreys added that child maintenance payments are essential in ensuring security and stability for children and protecting the welfare of families.

The minister has said “very shortly” she will be announcing the legislative measures to decouple social welfare from our child maintenance system in line with the recommendations of the review group. 

Fianna Fáil Senator in Kildare and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Women’s Caucus, Fiona O’Loughlin, said he welcomed the recommendation, stating that the non-payment of child maintenance is clearly unacceptable.

She said the reviews is especially welcome for one-parent families and their children, who experience some of the highest poverty rates in the country and need support. 


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