Reforming child maintenance: resisting the pressure to punish fathers

Today sees the continuing debate on the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords reach the issue of charging parents for the use of the Statutory Maintenance System, what used to be called the Child Support Agency. The issue of charging parents is one that has got Peers hot and bothered as they rush to defend the rights of single parents fuelled, no doubt, by the relentless campaigning of single parent charity Gingerbread.

Reading some of the rhetoric, I often wonder whether I live in the same world as these campaigners for whom most separated parents appear to be women, single handedly striving to put bread on the table and shoes on their children’s feet. This world is effectively described by the Chief Executive of Gingerbread, quoted in the Independent today on the issue of charging parents to use the Statutory Maintenance Scheme, when she said ”children will end up paying the price for the non-resident’s failure to meet his parental responsibilities.”

Now this price that she is talking about is, by our calculation at the Centre for Separated Families, as follows:

no more than 35p per week (which is less than the cost of three standard text messages) for 16% of those affected, whilst 40% would pay no more than 70p per week and if maintenance Maintenance Direct is used, there would be no charge payable at all!

which, on examination, would lead one to conclude that it is a reasonable investment for the potential thousands of pounds that could be received in Child Maintenance over a child’s lifetime.

And yet this topic has got the single parents charities in a lather, the Peers that they lobby up on their high-horses, and the media in a frenzy about how women and children are going to be punished by the introduction of charges. The big question is, why?

Running underneath this issue is a principle. It is a key principle and it is one that single parent campaign groups are very very familiar with. We see this principle being played out over and over again, in the liberal media and the in political terms. The principle is the rights of women (which of course are always linked with the rights of children) and how they will be affected by cuts and in this case charges for the use of the Statutory Maintenance Scheme. This extraordinarily popular cause is one that even the Prime Minister presiding over the government that is proposing the cuts and the charges must defer to, the rights of women being likely to affect the female vote and in turn play a deciding factor in whether he continues in his post.

Let us be clear, women (and their children) are top of the pile and hold a huge amount of political capital, whilst men, particularly as fathers, are way down the list and can therefore be seen in more prosaic terms. In the world that I work in, Fathers – as one observer said to me last year – ’have a moral obligation to pay’ – simply, it would seem, by virtue of being a man. The outrage at the heart of charging mothers for the use of the Statutory Maintenance Scheme, a scheme that was once, (in the guise of the Child Support Agency) seen as the big stick to beat father’s into submission, is not, the small amounts of money that it would actually cost, the issue is the principle that women are losing the absolute right to have the state intervene punitively against fathers on their behalf.

The reforms to the Child Maintenance System are long overdue and today, Maria Miller, the Minister in charge of the changes, has announced a twenty million pound investment in support services to enable parents to work together after separation. The Centre for Separated Families has long campaigned for such a change and welcomes the news with relief. At last, the UK can begin to develop some of the services that have been available in other countries for many years, the kind of services that help both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives instead of pushing them apart and dividing them into carer or provider. This news is a huge step forward for those working with separated families in the UK and particularly those working with fathers.

At the heart of the changes that start with the investment announced today, is the understanding that fathers have struggled for many years to remain part of their children’s lives and have, for too long, been pushed out by the stereotyping of family separation that has been perpetuated by single parent campaign groups. Whilst this news has been announced, however, the media and political focus remains upon the issue of charging mothers for the use of the Statutory Maintenance Scheme. Let us be clear, the rights of women as mothers is not something that the campaign groups are going to give up lightly.

I have written about the UK social assistance model of support to separated families many times. Brought in to sever the dependence of women upon their husbands after separation, the model is intended to safeguard unmarried and divorced women’s right to choose how they, and their children, organise their lives after family separation. Its original aim, to reduce stigma and ensure that all families are treated with respect however they are constituted, has largely been met. However, this has, in my view, come at a cost. And the price paid has been fatherhood.

Contrast the social assistance model with the social policy governing separated families in, say, Norway or Denmark, where both parents are supported to care for their children and both parents are seen as responsible for providing. Women in the Scandinavian countries are not fighting for their rights not to pay for a service to collect Child Maintenance from the father of their children, they are out working and providing it themselves, in partnership with the father of their children who is also sharing the care as well as providing in his own right. This system seems to me to be eminently more suitable to twenty first century Britain; supporting women to be more than carers, tied to the kitchen sink and men to be more than workers, tied to long working hours devoid of any interaction with the family.

The changes being heralded by today’s announcement will not bring us in line with those Scandinavian Countries. There is much further to go until we reach that sensible place, but they are a step in the right direction. The announcement of a package of financial support to develop holistic support for families, signals that this government understands that change is needed to ensure that both parents are supported to remain involved with their children after separation. This government has seen through the bluster and the fogging of the single parent campaign groups, to the other side, a place where dad is not the bogey man, always running off and leaving the family or terrorising mothers with domestic violence. This investment, in services that can offer a new way forward, is a mark of respect for families and a commitment to supporting them through difficult times so that they can continue to manage their own lives, together as well as apart.

But it is not going to be easy. The campaigning by the single parent groups goes on and the stereotypes of the impoverished single mother and her destitute children will continue to be perpetuated in order to keep the moral high ground. And Peers from Lord Mackay onwards will continue to fall for it. The government may well be defeated on the issue of charging in the Lords today. If they are, then it will be heralded by the single parent campaigners as another victory for the rights of children not to have to pay the price for the fecklessness of their fathers. But don’t be fooled. This is not about children’s rights, this is about women and their rights to enforce fathers to pay up or else. It is one of the fundamental foundations upon which single parent rights movement is founded – the right to control family life after separation – and it has contributed to the demise of the family, respect for fatherhood and the rights of children to know and love both of their parents after separation.

I have said many times, that where a mother is coping with life alone because the father of her children has run off, acted badly or avoided his responsibilities, we must support that mother and her children and bring that father to book. The charges that are being proposed are designed to ensure that those who really need a Statutory Maintenance Scheme can have access to a strong and powerful service. We will always need single parent support because there will always be single parents as described above. What I object to, however, is the way in which the single parent lobby has had a stranglehold on social policy in design and delivery for too long, forcing all families to fit that model of the poor impoverished mother and the dead beat dad. Today, this is finally being challenged and change is on its way. Whilst the media and the Lords are bemoaning the fate of the stereotype, those of us working in the real world are getting on with real life and real families. This government has done a brave thing. Those of us who understand how brave, step forward now.

29 comments

  1. mark dewison · January 25, 2012

    As always, Karen talks sense. The steroetype of impoverished single mother and feckless runaway father that informs social policy, is nothing short of toxic and leads to many anomolies. To take my own example, I am paid a fraction of what my ex receives in salary (circa £90,000!), she receives all the state benefits, she has a partner who by her account contributes very generously and yet I still have to pay her nearly 20% of my salary. This is in addition to food costs – as I provide half of the childrens’ evening meals, I pay for some clothing, and I take them on 2 holidays a year. It is clear that “resident parent” is a winner take all title which hands the person who has the title a powerful coercive tool with which to force a manifestly unfair arrangement. We need to develop the Scandinavian and Australian model of the state looking at the needs of BOTH parents.

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    • Barry · January 25, 2012

      Totally agree Mark well said, the non-resident parent is the one who loses, not only quality time with their children but is financially hit hard and still left to pay for the kids things like clothes, day’s out, petrol picking up/dropping off kids and holiday’s on top of the csa payment’s regardless of how many kids you have with your new partner.
      It wasn’t my fault the system worked in favour for my ex and was better off without me as she gained free rent, full benefit’s and CSA, not having to work but yet having a way better lifestyle than me working full time, stereotype type that…single mother’s gain more thanks to a weak government and you wonder why you see so many single mother’s out their, also a great way to the top of the ladder for getting house’s! WIN WIN for woman. Oh i forgot to mention, it’s for the best interest’s of the children…AS IF!

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  2. Paul Manning · January 25, 2012

    There will be many out there, especially mothers, who will say that fathers should not link having access to their own children with maintenance, and that fathers have a duty and a responsibility to pay whether or not he sees his children. In theory this sounds ethically correct since indeed he shared in bringing about a creation that needs caring for, and certainly that costs money. However, in practice while this sounds all well and good, it is indeed not! Many women want their cake and also eat it too, they can’t have it both ways. It is nieve and ridiculous to expect a father not to feel resentment when a mother does all she can to prevent him fom seeing his own flesh and blood, and yet she is all to willing to demand the cash! If there are established and legally accepted facts and reasons why a father should not see his children, well then that is a different matter. It is no good saying that fathers should just pay up no matter what, such an opinion takes into account little of the frustrations he may be facing with a very hostile ex. The sheer bloody mindedness of some women can ofen lead a good father into making the wrong decision, in that he now WILL NOT pay any maintenance, he may be wrong and I can’t condone it, but I can understand it. It brings to mind a saying that is closely related: “no taxation without representation”, I know this was in regard to the USA having a say in its own affairs under British rule, however, the principle still applies. If fathers are not even given their rights to see their children, and allowed a meaningful role as a dad (because mum is being damn awkward), then it is little wonder that in effect they refuse to pay a maintenance tax. Yes all parents should support their own children it is right and proper to do so, but fathers can be pushed only so far, and perhaps some mothers too, but no parent is perfect. Our anger at losing our kids for no good reason, except maybe pettiness and vegeance on the part of one of the parents, will eventually circumvent the logic of what we should do and make one scream out… NO WAY I WONT PAY NOW! Its not right but it happens. Mum, if you want maintenance for the children, then for Gods sake be fair, let us fathers see our kids, then I’m sure you will get the financial support for them. If you communicate and sit down and talk to us and put the welfare of our children first, instead of your own feelings, then all will work out, im sure of that.

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    • Barry · January 26, 2012

      So True Paul, well said!

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  3. Gary Beesley · January 25, 2012

    The system is wrong, biased and I am fed up as a parent with joint residency of a justice and CSA system that is just wrong.

    I applaud the government for recognising this and taking action.

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  4. SWKRichard · January 25, 2012

    No one should refuse to support their children (and in our experience we’ve yet to meet anyone on £90k and receiving benefits…unless of course they’ve 15 or so kids all in expensive nurseries).

    To suggest that the family, often struggling to raise children without financial support from the non-resident parent (whatever gender) should be the ones penalised….sorry but it’s nothing short of ridiculous and fortunately the House of Lords have recognised that.

    Should anyone refuse to pay for their children, then it’s only fair that they are the ones that should be fined for this, the children should not lose out.

    This post completely misses the point. It’s not about the rights of women. Nor is it about the rights of fathers. It’s about the children. Whether the issues are ones of maintenance, contact or parenting issues the children must come first.

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    • karenwoodall · January 26, 2012

      richard, its clear you work with theb’parent with care’ and are thinking of these people when you write. It is not an anomaly for a ‘parent with care’ to be receiving a salary of £90,000 and still have all of the financial support from the state plus the father (who may be earning a fraction of what she earns) pay her 20 percentof his salary. your scathing tone suggests that you are unaware of the way in which the UK social policy actually works on the ground, perhaps it would be useful to move outside of your comfort zone and find out what realy happens across the whole spectrum of family separation, not just those you represent.

      The government was defeated last night on the issue of charging because the Lords are being lobbied by the powerful single parent campaigners whonpeddle the kind of rhetoric that makes people feel either guilty or anxious. The truth is, and having done this work for twenty five years, experienced family separation myself and having been the adult child of a separated family, that family separation is caused by mothers and fathers and mothers and fathers are equally impoverished, financially and emotionally by it.

      The arguments by single parent campaigners try to make us believe that every separation leaves one parent impoverished and the other skipping off to hide assets, the Lords fell for it, thankfully the government will fight on. These are important times for equality, dignity and respect for fatherhood as well as the next generation of children for whom, I hope, a new future awaits.

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    • Paul Manning · January 26, 2012

      Your statement “It’s not about the rights of women. Nor is it about the rights of fathers. It’s about the children”, I find that statement very contradictory indeed. Ok its about the children, well if that it is so then they also have a RIGHT to see their father! It seems to me that some mothers want dad out of the picture all together, but when it comes to maintenance they are really on the ball. In a perfect world, yes dad would pay, but some mothers are shooting them selves in the foot in regard to getting it. You can’t just say that its just about the childs rights, because if that were so alienating mothers would make sure that that they saw their fathers. You can’t just ignore the feelings of a father who is being left out of his childrens life for no good reason. if you do, being only human the resentment over takes reason and no maintenance will be forth coming, dont be nieve! In the normal course of events when seperated parents get on then its easy to sort out the money affairs, but unfortunately its not always as easy as that is it?

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  5. SWKRichard · January 26, 2012

    It’s not down to the state to pay for the children, it’s down to the parents. Any parent who is refusing to do so should be taken to task – is there really any excuse not to support your own children? No.

    Why should the family be penalised because one parent refuses to pay? They shouldn’t.

    As for my comfort zone, I would say my views are less biased than many posters on this, they’re based on experiences on both sides of the coin, with mothers and fathers. And for all those fathers you are speaking up for (and believe me my heart goes out to those involved in bitter battles), there are also a number of families where the other parent has walked out never to be seen again. Why should they be penalised ?

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    • mark · January 28, 2012

      Richard, as a simple matter of fact, Child Benefit is at present not means tested, so a resident parent with a salary of £90,000 will receive it. This will change in January 2013, when those in the 40% tax bracket will no longer be able to claim.
      I do think your argument simplistic, and not really related to the concerns that have been expressed in the various posts. No-one is saying that feckless runaway fathers should not meet their responsibilities. What people have an issue with is that this is a stereotype that by no means reflects the reality of most post separation families.
      As regards my own situation, I believe I am the only parent actually paying out of my own pocket, as all the money my ex spends on the children comes from either me or the government!

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    • Yvie · February 28, 2012

      Not all fathers refuse to pay, but some pay for their children in a different way. For example, with shared residence orders, a father could have his children for 50% of the time. His bills are exactly the same for him, as the children’s mother. Rent/mortgage has to be paid, children have to be fed and cared for. Clothes have to be provided, often several times a year as they grow, bedrooms have to be furnished with beds, wardrobes etc. They need possessions around them when they are with dad as well as when they are with mum. These don’t come cheap. On top of this, dads, like mums, will try to provide treats such as the cinema or a meal out now and then. No benefits are paid to dad – in fact despite having a residence order they are still taxed as single men with no dependants. Why is that I wonder, when a shared residence order indicates that they do have dependants.

      There is only so much money in the pot, but if dad is paying his way and mum is paying her way, there should be no need to call upon the State for extra support. The benefits which are paid to mothers such as Child Benefit, Working Tax Family Credit and Child Tax Credits are fairly generous, plus there are extra allowances such as child care expenses for working mothers.

      No account of income is taken by the CSA. I think that both sets of income should be taken into account before CSA is calculated, and I would include all the benefits that mothers receive in that calculation.

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    • Johnnie · April 13, 2012

      Richard, you are right that there are many parents who walk out never to be seen again but to insinuate that they walk simply because they do not care is way off the mark. More often than not, the mother is perceived as the main carer and so for this reason it is more often the father who leaves the family unit after separation. However, out of all fathers who walk, there will be some who are selfish and some who simply cannot face the pain of fighting and going through the reality and harshness of the family courts and then probably everything in between.
      Men are all too quickly judged for being the gender that walks away without a care, in the same way that domestic violence statistics all too often take note of instances where men commit DV and all too quickly ignore the many instances where women are the perpetrators.
      There is a misconception that women are the victims and men the aggressors/wrongdoers and as someone who sees both sides, it is quite annoying.

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  6. karenwoodall · January 26, 2012

    Richard, we are not going to agree, you are fixed in your view and are concentrating upon a small group of people, those who are left holding the baby. Out of the 2.5 or so million separated parents, that comes to a fraction of the whole. Policy has been built upon that fraction for too many years, causing untold pain and suffering to too many. The views on here are not biased, they are born of real life suffering and the experience of being discriminated against. I work with both sides of the family, I was left tholding the baby, literally, but I understand how the biased legislation pushes fathers out of their childrens lives. If you want to argue about thr rights and wrongs of outdated legislation, here is not the place to do it, our work at the Centre for Separated Families has gone way beyond that and we a working for a better future for all of our children, not just those in a small group of families. I understand your view and I fundamentally disagree with it, however you are entitled to it and I would fight for your right to express it, just not on here! Best wishes Karen

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    • SWKRichard · January 26, 2012

      I simply don’t believe it’s fair to penalise the innocent when one partner doesn’t want to pay towards their children. I’m surprised anyone can support this strategy – fortunately the House of Lords didn’t – but as you say, each to their own…

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      • BabylonBack2Babylon · January 26, 2012

        I don’t see this as penalising the innocent or ‘fining’ parents. In my opinion, the government should be charging both parents if they choose to use CSA. This would incentivise the making of private agreements which, as the evidence shows, work better in the long run for children.

        Parents rush headlong into the CSA and then get caught up in a nightmare system that tends to cause grief to both parents. I agree that some paying parents are the ones who ended the relationship, but in just as many cases, not only were they left, but they had their children taken away from them too.

        In terms of the responsibility to pay, perhaps we should also consider the responsibility to receive. According to the CSA, 33% of parents with care refuse to accept child maintenance whilst only 17% refuse to pay. If one parent has a responsibility to pay for the good of the children then surely the other parent has a responsibility to receive for the good of the children.

        Relationships end for all kinds of reasons and not, as you seem to be suggesting, because men abandon their families (although I accept that some do). And mums become the parent with care, not because they are ‘innocent’ or care more about their children, but because society expects them to and the law allows them to.

        For years, the CSA has been used to punish parents – it’s about time parents were supported to work together to make arrangements that are good for their kids.

        BTW – I am a father 🙂

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  7. karenwoodall · January 26, 2012

    The lords fell forthe stereotyping perpetuated by single parent campaigners. If you read my article Richard you will understand why its important to single parent campaigners to keep that stereotype alive. Yes there are ‘innocent’ parties as you call them but they are a small group within a larger whole. Henshaw’s review of the CSA in 2006, identified that charging was a way of changing the way that parents used the CSA, this government has taken that on board, their strategy will bring significant change to children and will also prompt behavioural change in parents, this is the wider intention. Focus however is on the ‘story’ that the media loves, the image of the poor woman left alone holding the baby, its a tiny part of the reality but its blown up to convey the idea that every family separation looks like that. it doesn’t as many on here and elsewhere will testify. Change will come, the defeat in the Lords won’t stop it although the single parent campaigners will fight it all the way.

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  8. SWKRichard · January 26, 2012

    This bill is not about contact, it’s about paying for your children, you are muddying the waters by bringing the two together.

    No one should expect not to pay for their children. Nor should they expect the state to pay instead of them – which is what the argument at the top of this page suggests. (And I still do wonder where the benefits come into the frame when one is on £90k, a Daily Mail story perchance?).

    No one should prevent the children from having fair access to both parents.

    No one should simply walk away and abandon their children.

    All of the above happen — and no, the bottom one isn’t the tiny minority you suggest – but it’s naive to expect them to be resolved with one broad brush stroke.

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    • karenwoodall · January 26, 2012

      Richard you are not reading what is being written, you are reading your own interpretation.

      mark’s ex can earn £90,000 and receive all state benefits, currently Child Benefit for example and Mark is still expected to pay her 20 percent of his salary regardless of what he earns. we have fathers in this situation who live alone, earn very little and cannot feed their children when they are with them because the mother takes the child maintenance even though she does not need it – many of these mothers are remarried and very well off.

      Come into the real world and read posts properly instead of labouring under the false illusions perpetrated by single parent campaign groups. Paul makes excellent points, you would do well to learn from them and, at the very least, have some respect for his experience.

      Noone is denying the reality you are describing, I lived it. what is being argued for is that this reality is not used to describe the whole spectrum of family separation.

      Basic rule if you a going to visit my blog regularly, read things properly and think outside of the narrow confines of stereotypes.

      And respect everyone else’s experience, it is real not made up.

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      • mark dewison · January 30, 2012

        Richard, Karen took the words out of my mouth – you’re not reading what people have written. Until you have developed the capacity to pay attention to what is being said, your arguments will come across as somewhat foolish. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I don’t know a politer way of saying it.

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    • Johnnie · April 13, 2012

      Richard, by using the word ‘access’, I can instantly tell that you have little experience in this arena, atleast in the UK.

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  9. SWKRichard · January 30, 2012

    Quote:
    mark’s ex can earn £90,000 and receive all state benefits,

    No. You can’t receive ALL state benefits on £90k, unless you have a mini bus full of children all with high childcare costs. You receive only £20.30 child benefit for the 1st child, £13.40 for subsequent children, which hardly covers school lunches / bus fares. This is not a benefit in the traditional sense – it’s available for all whether pauper or prince, and it is to be limited shortly to those on less than half that salary.

    There is no Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit or another huge raft of state benefits available for someone on a salary of £90k

    I am listening, but unless facts are stated correctly, there’s little point in entering the debate.

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  10. mark · January 31, 2012

    Richard, I’m glad you do now accept that someone on £90k can at present receive child benefit, as your previous posts indicated that you did not believe anyone on that salary could receive anything from the state. For my part, I will accept that the phrase “all the benefits” overstates the case.
    The fact remains that in my case my ex receives around £600 a month in benefits and maintantence. My average spend on the children, including maintenance and direct spends, is roughly the same as what she receives. My salary is approximately one third that of hers, and I receive no financial support at all. Do you begin to see the unfairness?

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  11. karenwoodall · January 31, 2012

    Richard, are you not nit picking here? Does it matter how many benefits Mark’s ex receives, don’t be pendantic. The fact is that Mark’s ex earns £90,000, her husband earns a good deal too. For now they also receive Child Benefit. Mark pays her 20% of his salary and that stands regardless of what he earns. This is grossly unfair and in no way represents the best interests of children. We have some dads in this situation who have their children half the week and for that half of the week their kids are living below the poverty line whilst the rest of the time they are living in luxury. You cannot, whichever way you cut it, say that pwc’s in those circumstances are doing it for the best interests of their kids, they’re doing it because they can and they are doing it because it inflicts suffering on their kids other parent (as well as their kids). And these are not isolated cases by the way, these are a significant proportion of the 2.5million separated families in the UK.

    The changes being proposed are so that the automatic entitlement of one parent to use the state to intervene against the other is removed. This might just stop some of this appalling behaviour in some parents. Recently a child in a family that I worked with, where a remarried pwc had put in for a recalculation of child maintenance after her children’s father also remarried, told me that her mother was angry that she and her sister were now enjoying the benefits of a new home with her dad and his new wife. She said that her mum was happy when her dad was struggling but now that he was doing alright she wanted to stop her and her sister going to see him. There are so many complex reasons why child maintenance gets tangled up in the process of separation that it makes sense to put the brakes on the ability of some parents to use the state system.

    And if you really want to know how the Child Support Agency was used by pwc’s against the other parent, try talking to CSA staff, they will tell you how much the CSA was seen by pwc’s as the revenge attack on the other parent when he wouldn’t play ball.

    Yes there are those who need the state system and they will get it, enhanced and even more powerful because it will focus on the few rather than the many. For too many more though the CSA was just a tool to batter dads with when they stepped out of line. I for one am behind the changes all the way and I am looking forward to the day when my work with families does not feature the poison of a CSA application launched or relaunched at any given moment.

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    • Yvie · April 13, 2012

      Can I just add here that the CSA will take no notice of a contact list submitted by the father if the mother disputes it. Even with a Court order the mother can claim that although the father had access or shared residence by Court order, the father did not collect the children on the given days. The csa will take the mothers word for this. There is a right of appeal but this can take many months during which the father has to pay up.

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  12. karenwoodall · January 31, 2012

    Sorry, I should have said, in my second to last paragraph ‘try talking to CSA staff, they will tell you ow much the CSA was seen by SOME pwc’s, am at risk of falling into the same stereotyping trap… my apologies.

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  13. Garry · February 9, 2012

    Not sure Richard gets the reality of the situation. Call the CSA today (as I have done in my role as a journliast). The CSA own press office admit that only 1% of their ‘clients’ are women. Only 1% of mothers pay CSA. So this ‘whatver’ gender makes no semse. It is mostly always the man who pays. I am in a similar situation. Getting the buss to drop off your child at the mother’s house with the Audi parked outside often leaves a sore taste in the mouth. Its social engineering for the ‘poor mother’. Aww poor thing, she can’t manage on 40 grand a year so the father has to pay out of his 15 grand a year to support her when the child is only with her 2 days a week.

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  14. Garry · February 9, 2012

    Its not “available to all” Its available to all women, unless you can apply for it. I now get child benefit. it took 10 years of applying !!

    It is simply because I AM A MAN. We have to prove we are not ‘feckless and absent’.

    I belived that women and mothers were victims until it happened to me. Perhaps you need to lose your home and your family for it to hit home. Many men (including me) are lap dogs for the feminist machine until of course it happens to them. Its a shock to the system.

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  15. Johnnie · April 13, 2012

    There is a certain type of person who, when you tell them what you are going through by not being able to see your children or having to see them in a contact centre, say things like, “Oh my God, that’s against the law. You need to get a solicitor and take it to court. You have rights you know. She can’t do that to you. You’re their father, you have just as much right to see them as their mother…” blah blah blah.

    The problem is that the vast majority of the population share that naivety. That is our biggest hurdle.

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    • Yvie · April 13, 2012

      I agree with you Johnnie – my son was one of those people who couldn”t understand why a father was not able to see his children if he wanted to. He really believed that any father who pushed hard enough would get contact with their children. When he and his ex. first separated, his ex. was very busy with her new boyfriend and so the contact he had with his children was very generous – courtesy of his ex. though. When the boyfriend moved in and they became a new family, things became more difficult. There is a hearing in two weeks time when my son will be asking for 50/50 shared residence plus half of the school holidays. I hope he is successfuly but who knows. His ex. will oppose this vigorously as she thinks just because she has moved on with a new partner, the children should move on with a new ‘dad’.

      Its a stressful and costly business and I can understand why some dads eventually give up in despair.

      Like

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