Closure of High Court is impacting parents’ deposit and collection of child-support funds; AG says cleaning is underway

The closure of the High Court of Justice has brought into focus not only the adage “Justice delayed is justice denied,” but it is impacting parents’ collection of child support.

A source tells REAL News that a certain judicial officer has been bombarded with telephone calls, while irate mothers have even showed up at the office to complain they have been unable to get their money.

The payment and the collection of maintenance funds used to take place at the St. John’s Magistrates’ Court.  However, these processes were handed over to the Family Court, once located on High Street in the Ryan Building. 

Reportedly, some issues developed at that location, forcing the authorities to move the court to the High Court building.

Now that the High Court building is closed – allegedly due to the presence of allergens,  including mold – mothers who are already struggling are unable to collect the maintenance paid into the court by their children’s fathers. 

Also affected are the men who are required to deposit their child-support money with the court.

One woman says she went to collect her daughter’s funds and was surprised to find the court closed. Further, she claims there is no notice advising parents where they are to collect child support now – and she deems this another blunder by the authorities.

According to the woman, some mothers depend on this money to help offset weekly expenses for their children.  If the High Court remains closed for much longer, she says, it will put further strain on single mothers, who are already struggling with daily-increasing food prices.

The source says that some mothers have been advised to contact Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie ” Benjamin, under whose portfolio the court falls, to explain their plight.

Meanwhile, not everyone who pays in and collects child support is impacted by the closure of the High Court.  Men with attachment orders – that is, money deducted directly from their salary – have the funds sent by their employers directly to the Treasury.

That money is then sent to the Magistrates Court, where the mothers can collect.

The only issue with this system, the source says, is that mothers do not always receive the maintenance money on time – because the Treasury is sometimes late in making the payments.

In related news, the attorney-general claims the High Court has undergone some deep cleaning since it closed its doors.  Benjamin says the carpeting in the courtrooms has been removed, and the cleaning of walls and other areas where mold has accumulated is underway.

High Court employees took action earlier this week to bring awareness to their plight, after a number of them – as well as jurors – fell sick.  Benjamin is promising that the staff can return to work by next Monday, June 5.