Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Pauline Tully, has called for all TDs to back the party’s Bill, which seeks to put an end to Lone Parents being forced into Court to seek maintenance in order to retain income supports.
The Bill will be debated in the Dáil on Thursday.
Teachta Tully said:
“Sinn Féin’s Bill to extend the remit of the Department’s Liable Relative’s Unit will progress to Second Stage in the Dáil on Thursday.
“Currently, Lone Parents have to prove they have sought child maintenance in order to continue receiving Lone Parent supports, such as the One Parent Family Payment and the Jobseekers Transition payment.
“Yet, as it stands, due to the limitations of the current legislation, the Department only step in to seek a contribution from the non-custodial parent for the duration of the One Parent Family Payment, which ceases once a child turns seven.
“Once a child turns 7, not only do the Department of Social Protection no longer assist with seeking a contribution from the non-custodial parent, but they write to the non-custodial parent to inform them that they are no longer obliged to contribute.
“This means that many Lone Parents are being unfairly forced into court in order to prove they have sought maintenance to qualify for and continue to receive the Jobseekers Transition, which is payable until the youngest child turns fourteen.
“We have heard from Lone Parents, who tell us they are put under pressure to do this in order to continue receiving important social welfare supports for their families, sometimes their only weekly income.
“Sinn Féin want to extend this legislation to allow the Department’s Liable Relative Unit to continue seeking a contribution from the non-custodial parent for the duration of payment of Jobseekers Transition rather than the current cliff-edge where the Department pulls away once the One Parent Family payment ceases.
“Extending this assistance to Lone Parents is crucial and cannot wait for the now-delayed Child Maintenance Review Group to report later this year.
“While, this Bill offers only a sticking plaster to Lone Parents, it is an important interim measure to take pressure off Lone Parents to go to court in order to retain their social welfare support.
“Sinn Féin have repeatedly brought forward proposals for a statutory Child Maintenance Service, similar to that which is in place in the North. This would put in place a system to ensure that Child Maintenance is calculated, collected and paid centrally, rather than putting pressure on Lone Parents to pursue maintenance, which can be court-ordered but never actually paid, on their own.
“We need a statutory Child Maintenance Service, but in the meantime this Government needs to stop forcing Lone Parents into courtrooms to seek Maintenance.
“I am urging all TDs in Cavan-Monaghan and across the Dáil to back Sinn Féin’s Bill in the Dáil and support Lone Parents and their families.”