Mother complains that child support is being held up at Family Court because of under-staffing


Dear Editor:

Something needs to be done urgently at the Family Court, where the collection of child-
maintenance payment is concerned.

I took my children’s father to court because he was not feeding them. Due to him not complying
with the court’s order he went back before the magistrate, and it was decided that the
maintenance would be deducted from his wages.

One would think that the problem would have been solved then; it hasn’t. I have had to wait up
to six weeks at a time to get payment of one month’s wages for my children [when] I should be
getting the children’s money twice in a month because their father is paid fortnightly.

When the court closed in December, I never received anything for them until the week of the 19th
of January! That payment was from the middle of November to December. From then I have not
received anything for them, and today is the 22nd of February! What is the problem you might
ask? They are short staffed.

Yesterday when I visited the court to enquire about the status of my children’s maintenance, there
was one cashier working. She informed me that she was the only one working and she has to be
collecting cash; so she can not be processing cheques at the same time.

I asked when she would be processing the cheques received and she said she did not know. She
then showed me a stack of envelopes more than three (3) inches high of cheques that have been
received from different work places that are yet to be processed.

I asked to speak to her supervisor. The supervisor informed me that they are short staffed and
that the young lady at the cashier is the employee who is trained to process the cheques received;
and with no one else being there she has to receive cash until she can be relieved.

After voicing my concerns to her she told me to speak to the department manager – who did not
know that they were short staffed nor that there was a backlog of processing maintenance paid by
salary deduction. She promised to investigate the matter but could not tell me when I would be
able to receive the money to feed my children.

In a case like this I am expected to keep visiting the court house, hoping to hear that something
was processed, because the court does not have a phone line that you can call to make enquiries.

They have been “cotching up” in a little room in the High Court building for over year until the
government can find somewhere else to place them.

I also have to lose time from work because the courthouse closes at 1pm because of the
conditions the workers have to work in. This constant back and forth is also adding to my
financial burdens as I do not work in or near town and have to travel to town to make an enquiry.

In the meantime, my children have to go without when my salary is depleted, because there are
not enough workers to do what needs to be done at the courthouse.

This is unfair to all the mothers who are in the same situation as I am. We already have to deal
with men who don’t want to do right by their children. Why should we be forced to wait weeks
to get the well-needed assistance? Especially when the money was paid into the court but is not
being proceeded because of short staff or reduced office hours.

Mothers, more of you need to voice your displeasure, because the height of the pile of cheques to
be processed proves that I am not alone. If we continue to stay silent or grumble to our friends
and not speak out, we will continue to be in this situation.

Frustrated Mother