Hard for women to get court-ordered child support
May 23, 2002
Letters on daily grind
On Friday, May 17, I had a hearing with my child's father in court. An arrest warrant had been issued for him since he was in default of more than six months' support. The magistrate called him into chambers and spoke to him. When he came out he had a smile on his face and then he left. I requested through the clerk to speak to the magistrate (who was in chambers). On the advice of the probation officer, I presented a letter from the collections office, which was given to the magistrate. This stated that my child's father was a constant defaulter, and that since the order was made almost three years ago only one payment had been made by him directly. The order that was made at the hearing has never been adhered to. Only after warrants were served was money paid, and some were commitals running as long as eleven months. I never got to see the magistrate; I asked the clerk if it's over and was told he had two months to pay and it would be over.
The magistrate is very lenient to a man who doesn't care about a new school term, Christmas, birthday or sickness.
This is how it goes: a warrant is issued for this man, the police go to his house, he's not there, sometimes the warrant disappears and I have to seek a new one and ask the Commander on the east coast and the Commander on the west bank for help in getting him arrested.
The man works privately so he's all over the country. Then the manhunt begins. After a few months he's caught, goes to court, tells a sad story and lies about his income and then gets however much time he asks for. By the time he has paid after that warrant has been served, months have passed, and you have to get another one.
All the time it's me who has all the expenses with my child and has to travel up and down trying to get him arrested.
This is my day and that of many other women in the court, and at the end of it all you wonder if the court is really worth going to. All you get is 1/5 of your child's expenses or less awarded by the court.
The magistrate just doesn't seem to care, and if I'm angry I can say more. I was so hurt I cried. I think if fathers are remanded when in arrears of three months or more this will help a little. I am begging the authorities to look into these cases.
(Name and address provided)