Mom wants maintenance without court intervention

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I am separated from my husband. We were together for 10 years but we were married for a year and five months. We have been separated since 2013. He has three daughters, including a set of twins, with someone else. He doesn't support the children he has with me.

How do I seek support for them without going through the court system? I have spoken to him many times about supporting them.

I have noted the contents of your letter and am quite astonished by what you have stated in it. I must admit that I cannot understand your position of not wanting to go through the court system and thereby obtain maintenance for your children!

I suppose since you do not want to go to court, that you can try to have him attend mediation with you and mediate the matter of his failure to provide maintenance for your children. I do not know how you would secure his attendance at a mediation, however, as he cannot be forced to attend.

The legal provisions which provide for maintenance of children of a marriage, or any child of any man, exist for the benefit of children, and no parent has the right to decide to ignore them and leave their children in want. Such a parent would be, in my view, guilty of neglect.

Only by a legal order made in a court of law, and by the application of the law to proved facts, can your husband be coerced to meet his legal obligation to provide for his children. The law clearly provides that both parents are to provide for their children as much as they are capable of doing.

You must make the necessary application to the Family Court in your parish for him to be ordered to provide maintenance for the children he had with you. He cannot avoid this obligation.

I know of no other means by which you can definitely obtain his provision of maintenance for the children. Be serious and responsible and act in your children's best interests. You are acting contrary to this by not taking legal action against him.

Remember, you must quantify what is need for the maintenance of the children, which includes the cost of housing, food, general clothing and uniforms, footwear, transportation, lunch money, toiletries, barbering or hairdressing costs, extra lessons, extra-curricular activities, and a sum for miscellaneous expenses. Total the costs of all these to use in your application as the court would require this to work out how much he should pay. Educational, medical, dental and/or optical are dealt with separately, and set as the court determines — whether he or you should pay the whole, three-quarters, half or quarter.

I again urge you to act as a sensible and responsible mother and not continue to ignore your children's legal rights. If you do not and your children are adversely affected by your inaction, you could find yourself in legal trouble. Please do the right thing and go to the Family Court. The Clerk of Court will assist you to make the application, but take the list and figures with you and copies of the children's birth certificates. There are no legal costs to be paid unless you decide to obtain the services of a lawyer.

I wish you and your children the best. Go to the Family Court. Your husband is enjoying the benefits you and only you have been giving him, as you have been acting foolishly.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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