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Minister Heather Humphreys announced the reforms today. Alamy Stock Photo
lone parents

'Landmark' reforms to child maintenance system to benefit over 16,000 single parents

The child maintenance payment will now be excluded from the social welfare means test.

MORE THAN 16,000 lone parents are to benefit from what government are calling “landmark reforms” to the state’s child maintenance system.

The reforms will mean a single parent will no longer be required to go to court to seek child maintenance and the payments will be excluded from the social welfare means test.

Lone parents will also no longer be required to provide evidence that they have made effort to request payment from the non-resident parent first, when claiming the one parent family payment or the jobseeker’s transitional payment.

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys today said the reforms aim to reduce stress on behalf of lone parents while also reducing the burden on the courts system to get the cases resolved.

The changes, announced by the minister today, also detail that the Department of Social Protection will no longer seek to recoup claim costs from the non-resident parent.

These reforms will open up the system to even more lone parents, while those who already receive payments will see an increase. The total cost of the reforms will amount to €10 million per year.

Humphreys today said she used to witness lone parent households receive their payment some weeks, while other weeks it was missed.

She said that the the person that “suffers most in that situation is the child. And I don’t want to see that happen”.

The department, however, maintained that these changes do not replace or supersede the responsibility of parents to maintain their own children.

These reforms were based on recommendations that were included in an earlier report the child maintenance review group, published in November 2022.

As previously reported by The Journal, the report noted that in Ireland child maintenance is seen largely as a personal, parental obligation and therefore a matter of private family law.

“There is no state agency with responsibility for child maintenance payments and pursuit of maintenance is left up to the claiming parent on behalf of their child,” it said.

A previous survey by One Family in 2016 on shared parenting found that the most common financial problem identified by respondents was non-existent or insufficient child maintenance payments.

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