The government has today announced changes to the child maintenance system. At the moment this is only a consultation so nothing is going to happen immediately. The proposals are based around encouraging separating parents to agree arrangements. That happens in quite at lot of cases already but anything that encourages this happening more should be a good thing.
The government has to be careful not to go too far though. A relationship does not have to be violent for one party to have more power. We have all seen situations were a parent has been forced to pay more than they are required or can genuinely afford in order to be allowed to continue seeing their child. Alternatively some parents are forced to accept far less than they need or are entitled to because their ex partner has insisted that they accept it or get nothing.
The government proposals include provision for people to pay for the service except where there has been domestic violence. The fear is that to charge even a nominal amount is going to discourage people who really should be using the scheme. It raises issues about who should pay the fee, the applicant or the person that refuses to negotiate a proper arrangement. If there is a fee then its not unreasonable to expect a better standard of service than currently exists.
The new scheme needs to be properly run, dealing with cases promptly and properly to address the biggest concerns that people currently have. That means as well that they are going to deal with those people who seem so easily to be able to give them the run around now.