CHILD SUPPORT Guidelines needed


CHILDREN’S advocate Faith Marshall-Harris believes that standardised child maintenance guidelines are needed in Barbados.
Her comments came as she said that this is a deficiency in the current legislation. “When relationships between parents break down, there is often a great deal of misinformation in relation to legal rights and responsibilities. This is why you often hear fathers saying, ‘I gave the mother money and she spends it on hair. You hear mothers say that fathers cannot see their children because they have not paid child support.’”
According to the UNICEF consultant, often neither party understands the way maintenance should be calculated.
“They do not accept that maintenance includes basic food and shelter, services (such as child minding), education, training, school books and uniforms, medical attention, medication and insurance,” she explained.
“I strongly recommend that Barbados introduce standardised maintenance guidelines, as there are in other countries. These support guidelines should be researched and developed by economists engaged for the purpose.
They should be based on the means of the parties, their obligations, the living standard of both, the number of dependants, the needs of the child or young person and the cost of living,” it was further stated.
Marshall-Harris also pointed to the fact that some persons work seasonally, saying that this should be taken into account and a minimum income established below which a parent is not liable for child support.
“Parents should be able to be involved in the child’s daily routine and to share in special occasions. Parents must learn to cede their own interests, feuds and jealousies for the sake of children’s wholesome development,” she stated.
The retired Coroner also acknowledged that there are many situations where parents are unable to agree on access. 
“We need to enact guidelines that can be used as a default. Ideally these should be only minimum guidelines. Children should spend as much time with each parent as they would if the parents were still together,” she asserted. (JH)

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