Deadbeat dads have to pay what they owe
THE enforcement of maintenance orders in this country is at best haphazard and often non-existent. There can be few among us who do not know of a lone parent, usually the mother, having to beg for what she was awarded by a court to pay for her children’s food, clothing and education – or, in many cases, simply getting no money at all.
Feckless fathers get away with this, often favouring their second families to the detriment of their first.
In this year’s divisive referendum on abortion, we heard a lot about how pregnant women should be encouraged and supported to have their babies, but little in the way of practical suggestions about how they might be financially supported in order to do so.
One obvious way would be to compel these deadbeat dads to pay what they owe. And, if the example of Judge Patrick Durcan in Ennis District Court was followed elsewhere, this might be easier than we think.
Yesterday, he told a man who owed €5,350 in maintenance for his daughter that if he did not immediately sell a car he bought for €10,000 with the proceeds of a personalinjury award, he would be jailed.
Blunt and to the point, this is the sort of get-tough attitude we need to see more of. This man was not asked to contribute a huge amount, because €50 a week does not go far. That he could not even pay that simply added to the stress and burden placed on his former partner. While she struggled, the man blew €18,000 between April and June of this year.
Too often, men see maintenance orders as some sort of guideline for voluntary assistance. The sooner they realise they are legally required to contribute, and could be jailed if they do not, the better for all. We salute Judge Durcan for his straight talking, and for defending the right of women and children to be financially supported by these men.